We now know Trump has changed his opinion about the future of Assad. The Syrian opposition must capitalize on this dramatic development and seize the opportunity to present Trump with the evidence of the regime’s collaboration with ISIS so that the American administration fully understands what is it dealing with.
In May last year Sky News correspondent Stuart Ramsay, and others, obtained documents proving collaboration between ISIS and the regime.
The files show that the militant group has been training foreign fighters to attack Western targets for much longer than security services had suspected.
The documents also provided evidence that the Assad regime has been colluding with the jihadists, who have captured more than half of Syria’s territory since 2012.
A pro regime website (Syrian Perspective) quoted General Ali Abdullah Ayyoob, Chief of the Syrian General Staff as saying after ISIS withdrew from Palmyra: “the rats (ISIS men) inside were finally given the go-ahead to withdraw to Al-Sukhna, Al-Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. “ The Syrian high command ordered troops to stand down until the last ‘rodent’ had left
In February 2015 the USA embassy in Damascus accused the regime of supporting the ISIS advance on Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, and tweeted – “Reports indicate that the regime is making air-strikes in support of ISIL’s advance on Aleppo, aiding extremists against Syrian population.”
In a string of tweets, the U.S. embassy condemned Assad’s actions, saying he “will never be an effective counterterrorism partner.” Embassy operations have been suspended since 2012, but the Twitter account is still active.
In January 2014 a report in the Daily Telegraph by Ruth Sherlock drew attention to the oil deals between ISIS and the Assad regime. “The regime has “financed” the jihadists “by selling oil and gas from wells under their control to and through the regime”.
Ample evidence also exists to prove Iran’s collusion with Al Qaeda. The US 9/11 Commission Report had already established that Iran “facilitated the transit of Al-Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, including future hijackers.” Iran, according to the report, wished to conceal any past evidence of its cooperation with Sunni terrorists’ association with Al-Qaeda,” but these connections continued.
At ISIL’s headquarters in rural western Aleppo in March 2014 opposition forces discovered official documents, passports and SIM cards issued by the Iranian authorities to fighters from Chechnya and Kazakhstan.
ISIS suddenly emerged in Syria, at a time when the collapse of Assad’s regime seemed imminent. The emergence of ISIS saved the Syrian regime by threatening the world that an alternative terrorist regime would replace Assad.
As President Trump ponders is next move he must factor in the Assad/ISIS nexus.