Syrian FSA Routing Al Qaeda: What’s Washington Waiting For?

Editor’s Note – Mary Claire Kendall is a Washington-based writer. She has done commentary on the Middle East since 2007.

Free Syrian Army Routing Al Qaeda: What’s Washington Waiting For?

By Mary Claire Kendall

Major General Paul E. Vallely (USA-Ret.), former deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army in the Pacific and West Point grad, is the go-to guy for the Tea Party.

“We worship the ground he walks on,” said Captain Larry Bailey, USN (SEAL) (Ret), of Special Operations Speaks (SOS).

Retired MG Paul E. Vallely addresses attendees at the press conference.
Retired MG Paul E. Vallely addresses attendees at the press conference after his trip to Cairo.

Little wonder.  Vallely of “Stand Up America” is a stand-up guy—not only domestically but abroad. He’s got the kind of gravitas and vision rarely seen on the national stage.

“America is at a crossroads and it’s up to us to take the right road and get this country back again,” he told a recent Tea Party gathering in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Syrian Opposition Liaison Group Helps Rescue Swedish Journalists

Internationally, his “Syrian Opposition Liaison Group” (SOLG) is engaged in a high-stakes chess game guided by a clear strategic understanding of how to defeat Islamic extremists in the Middle East.

Just recently, SOLG played a direct role in the release of two Swedish journalists—Niclas Hammarstrom and Magnus Falkehed—abducted in late November by a group of bandits in the Qalamoun Mountains and held for six weeks in the small town of Arsal al Ward not far from Aleppo where the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has routed Al Qaeda.

General Vallely visited the area and met with FSA commanders last August—the only senior American to do so.  It was all part of a humanitarian, political and security fact finding mission, giving him unique knowledge of Syria’s complex dynamics. He was protected by a contingent of 400 FSA soldiers on this, his fourth visit to the Middle East in 18 months.

The goal of the bandit kidnappers, as always, was to “discredit and decimate” the FSA, said Col. Nagi N. Najjar, special adviser to General Vallely and manager of SOLG, as well as to make money.

SOLG came to the rescue, leading the negotiations secretly between the Swedish authorities, the Swedish Police, and the FSA command on the ground, ultimately helping secure the Swedes’ release in early January.  It was done without recompense as a gesture of goodwill and gratitude for all the Swedish government has done to find refuge for displaced Syrians.

Coming Arab Summer

Of course, this is but one episode in the ongoing bloody Civil War in Syria where the stakes could not be higher.  It’s a proxy war writ large.

For instance, Saudi Arabia and Qatar sponsor terrorism camps throughout Syria, where new recruits are trained—Yossef Bodansky’s claims to the contrary. Bodansky, former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the U.S. House of Representatives (1988 to 2004), claims the Syrian National Congress and FSA are supporting Islamic extremist camps. Not true, says Col. Najjar. “The mere existence of the Idlib camp should serve as a reminder of the true irrelevance and impotence of the West’s allies.”  They simply don’t have the resources to clean out every enemy training camp, even in areas under FSA control.

Why won’t the U.S. get with the program?

As General Vallely said in South Carolina, Col. Najjar told him in the wake of 9/11, America should not put bases in the countries where Islamic extremists live and plot.

Fast forward some 12 years and it’s high time to heed his wisdom.  As Col. Najjar said, “Al Qaeda (AQ) could be terminated… and the FSA is very good at doing it; they should be given the chance and opportunity.”

Yet, the Administration dithers as they weigh whether or not to resume non-lethal aid to the FSA, while “letting Assad continue the civilian massacres, dropping tons of bombs and explosives on civilian cities,” said Col. Najjar, “and letting the AQ extremists fill the vacuum.”

If Iran had attended the recent Syrian peace conference in Montreaux, outside Geneva, said Col. Najjar (a near reality until the U.N. rescinded the invite), it would only have strengthened the Al Qaeda network, while further weakening the FSA.  Meanwhile, Al Qaeda Chief Zawahiri, on January 26, has called for a “hot summer”.

In his video release, Col. Najjar said, he “declares war on America this summer and calls for the Islamic Ummah to resist the Crusade and its regional lackeys from the West, forcing the Islamic world to bow.”

It’s a “regional Jihad project in the path of Allah and Palestine against the American ‘secular reforms,’” he is calling for, said Col. Najjar, and against “all secular regional regimes—from Algeria, Tunis, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Philippines, Pakistan and Arabia.” Furthermore, “he is calling for Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan to be the model of defeat for the West, and calling for the overthrow of the King of Saudi Arabia declaring him a lackey of the West.”

On
Image being posted throughout the Middle East which was taken from the SUA site by the terrorists and edited by the ISIS – to threaten him and SUA staff with their lives.

Third Option: What Is Washington Waiting For?

“Why ignore this third option,” which the FSA offers for stabilizing Syria, asks Col. Najjar? Doing so is “a dangerous combo that could ignite and inflame the entire region, with a domino effect in Lebanon and Jordan.”

Just now, in the wake of FSA’s successes in Aleppo, Al Qaeda is on the march, regrouping in other places and provinces, intent on revenge.

“Support and guidance is needed from the Pentagon for these guys fighting under fire against Al Qaeda,” said Col. Najjar. Otherwise, the extremists will prevail.  “Something needs to be done… and urgently,” he said. “This fight is no joke down there, 700 dead in one week… and AQ is promising a bloody retaliation.”

If ever there was a time to come to the aid of our friends in Syria, it’s now. And, the irony is, they can defeat Al Qaeda once and for all—something we’ve been trying to do with varying degrees of success since 2001.

Meanwhile, as Washington hesitates, Gen. Vallely continues to lead.  And, at great risk.

On January 21, Supreme Kalamullah Abu Abdullah (HA), the Emir of the Mujahireen of the Islamic State of Iraq and Shaam, posted a video in which he says, “The American General (Gen. Paul E. Vallely), may Allah enable us to kidnap him and cut his head off, has gathered with the Free Army and they have made battle plans to attack the Islamic State.”

General Vallely understands Al Qaeda is not ‘Junior Varsity,’ as President Barack Obama falsely claimed in a recent New Yorker interview, but intent on destroying America. He and his team will keep sounding the alarm bells until America wakes up and smells the tea—hopefully before it’s too late.

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Mary Claire Kendall has done commentary on the Middle East since 2007, most recently for the Washington Times in “Justice for the Benghazi victims” (January 10, 2014).  She’s also written for The Weekly Standard, Forbes, Washington Examiner, San Francisco Examiner, New York Post, NY Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, National Catholic Register, The Wanderer, Human Events Online, National Review Online and Pajamas Media, among other venues, and is currently writing a book about legends of Hollywood, due for publication in 2015.  In 2008 she did commentary on Iran’s Press TV, presenting America’s strategic vision for achieving a stable and peaceful Middle East that emphasizes the dignity of the individual.

War, the Constitution, and Strange Bedfellows – Syria

By Scott W. Winchell, Editor – As SUA continues to report straight from the true leadership of the most senior commanders on the ground in the Syrian Rebel forces, we suggest that our readers consider the following article by our friend Andy McCarthy below and a few added thoughts.

Once again Andy clarifies that which has become so muddy in terms of constitutionality, along with Obama’s global reputation and its ties or separations with the American nation and its people. In our information gathering in the Middle East, not just in Syria, all too often the people there see our President incorrectly; they equate him as having the ability to do as he pleases and his actions are seen as reflecting the conscience of the entire nation. After all, that is what they witness(ed) in their own leadership; usually under a large and cruel thumb.

Therefore, we take great pains to point out that our President is merely a part of our government, a co-equal branch of three distinct branches, where dissent is common and encouraged, and checks and balances are supposed to rule the day. The current leader of this country speaks from the perspective of his support system, often very much at odds with other large portions of the nation. This concept is hard to understand in the Arab Street. So it is important to understand how they look at us, and our President.

Andy clears this up, cleanly and concisely.tomahawk-cruise-missile-bosnian-genocide

One facet that we would like to add though, is that just because we hear the term “Allah hu Akbar” shouted in almost every video we watch, it does not necessarily connote devotion to fundamental or fanatical Islam. McCain is partially correct in this regard, but he does not explain it well, nor does he realize that he is interacting with a faction(s) that purports to be the decision making body, but is not actually controlling and commanding forces in the field.

When in Aleppo, MG Vallely asked this question of the senior commanders, and they echoed the thought, and they intoned that saying “Allah hu Akbar” there is a knee-jerk reaction to powerful incidents akin to typing “OMG” (Oh my God!) here in a text on Twitter or Facebook! It is not, again not, always a depiction of fanaticism, there are many, many levels of piety in Islam. We need to stress again, Eastern culture and Western culture rarely coincide or translate well.

The people McCain, Obama, and Kerry believe to be moderates belies the term – an over used and misleading term; moderate. Those he calls moderate are aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and worse. It is an oxymoron in motion again as we witnessed in Egypt, one doomed to be at odds with America. Some people never learn.

The people McCain and John Kerry, along with the President talk to concerning Syria are on the outside looking in, yet when invited to talk with the commanders on the ground, they look the other way. SUA has attempted repeatedly to point out this crucial issue, but only recently do we see movement in the correct direction among policy makers.

There are many factions in the rebel cause, yet only one is truly, fully in charge – keeping radicals at bay so as to fight only one enemy at a time. These radicals have not taken over the rebellion as many purport but they are strengthening with so much money flowing their way. It is disheartening to see and hear people like Karl Rove, of all folks, opine otherwise, as the true fighters, the nationalistic and more secular majority receive so little in the way of help.

Time for facts America, not political rhetoric, face saving gestures and ploys, misinformation and deflection, and keeping the public in the dark – just shameful, yet, our nation is once again asked to pour its treasure and blood into yet another foreign policy disaster. We should be involved, but certainly not in the fashion Obama and his crew have devised so haphazardly – “Keystone Kops”!

Is Obama waiting to launch on 9/11? Lighting those candles would be a travesty and a heinous nightmare!

On Syria, I Respectfully Dissent

By Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review

I respectfully dissent from the editors’ support for U.S. military intervention in Syria, which expands on the corporate position National Review staked out last week.

While the credibility of an American president is no small thing, it is simply wrong to equate Barack Obama’s credibility with that of the United States, as the editors do: “The other [option left to Congress besides green-lighting an attack on Syria] is to turn [Obama] down and destroy the president’s credibility, and hence the nation’s.” (Emphasis added.) Ironically, their editorial goes on to deride conservative opponents of military intervention as overly simplistic. But it is the editors who oversimplify matters. American credibility on the international stage is bound up in the recognition of, and willingness to act on, vital national interests. It is not embodied by any single political actor – indeed, when one branch of government acts against the national interest, our system is designed to enable the other branches to put a stop to it.Obama-Plans-Full-Scale-War-on-Syria

The editors miss this point because they have conflated two critically different constitutional concepts: the unitary executive and separation of powers. Thus does the editorial offer up Alexander Hamilton as an exemplar of the Founders’ allegedly harmonious desire for “a strong commander-in-chief” who could “act with ‘decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch.’” The implication is that for Congress – and “some on the right” – to oppose a president’s foreign-affairs decisions is to undermine our constitutional order and, thus, our government’s “credibility” (meaning, effectiveness) in foreign affairs.

In context, however, Hamilton was not arguing (in Federalist 70) for an executive unfettered by congressional checks and opposition. He was advocating that the executive branch not be divided – i.e., that all the powers granted to the president be reposed in a single official rather than in multiple consuls or a committee. Hamilton did not come close to suggesting that Congress should avoid impeding the president. To the contrary, he contended that his suggested unitary executive model would make it easier for Congress and the public to rein in executive power. As he put it in that same essay the editors cite, “the executive power is more easily confined when it is one.”

Indeed, as memorialized in the records of the Constitutional Convention, even Hamilton, though the most enthusiastic of the Framers for a powerful executive, acknowledged that the president’s commander-in-chief powers were limited to “the direction of war when authorized or begun” (emphasis added). “Begun” obviously refers to the situation when the nation has been attacked. Beyond that, presidential uses of force would be appropriate only “when authorized” – and the Constitution vests the power to authorize in Congress.

While I disagree with a number of his conclusions, a law review article by Valparaiso’s D. A. Jeremy Telman ably recounts the relevant Constitutional Convention debates. Pierce Butler, he notes, actually proposed that the power to initiate war be vested in the president. The notion was roundly rejected, with Butler upbraided by Elbridge Gerry, who exclaimed that he “never expected to hear in a republic a motion to empower the Executive alone to declare war.”

Telman continues:

As James Madison put it in a letter to Thomas Jefferson: “The constitution supposes . . . that the Ex[ecutive] is the branch of power most interested in war, [and] most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legisl[ature].” Similarly, writing as Helvidius in his exchange with Alexander Hamilton, Madison asserted that “[i]n no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department.” As Michael Ramsey put it, “Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, Wilson, Washington, Jay, Marshall, and an array of lesser figures indicated that war power lay primarily with Congress, and no prominent figure took the other side.”

No sensible person contests the president’s power – in fact, his duty – to take unilateral action in the nation’s defense when we are under attack or the threat of imminent attack. But outside such exigencies, congressional authorization is a pre-condition to the president’s use of force. That necessarily implies that Congress may disagree with the president’s assessment. As today’s Obama partisans were fond of reminding us throughout the Bush years, the president does not get a blank check.

I have always been a proponent of strong executive power. I do not believe Congress may micromanage functions the Constitution actually assigns to the executive – including command over war fighting once war is authorized. I do not believe Congress may usurp or reassign to the judiciary powers that the Constitution vests in the president, such as the collection of intelligence against foreign powers. Nevertheless, again and again, the records of debates over the Constitution, and the Federalist papers on which the editors rely, demonstrate that the Framers were more worried about executive excess than executive credibility. The controversy was not between those who wanted a strong executive and those who did not; it was between those who believed the proposed constitution included enough checks against potential executive abuse and those who thought it needed more.

constitution burningConsequently, the Framers armed Congress with the power to declare war. (As our prior discussions here have elucidated, while I am in broad agreement with many aspects of my friend John Yoo’s analysis of constitutional power – see e.g., here – I respectfully disagree with his minimization of Congress’s Article I power to declare war, an interpretation tough to square with the recorded sentiments of Madison, among other framers.) The Constitution further enables Congress to defund military operations. It expressly limits appropriations for a standing federal army to two-year periods – precisely because the Framers worried that control over a powerful, permanent army would lead to abuses of presidential power.

Moreover, the Constitution denies the president the power make treaties unilaterally – he must obtain the approval of a Senate supermajority. Naturally, this arrangement can lead to embarrassing strikes against presidential credibility. After all, the president signs on to international compacts, ostensibly committing the nation to them, before submitting them for Senate consent. Yet the list of treaties that have not been ratified is long (see, e.g., here). Not only has congressional opposition to presidentially endorsed treaties not led to any discernible diminution of American – as opposed to presidential – credibility;National Review often finds itself standing athwart bad treaties, yelling, “Stop!” In 2010, for example, the editors were justifiably adamant that the “New START” pact negotiated with the Russians by President Obama was a terrible deal for the United States, and they thus urged the Senate to “send the administration back to the negotiating table.” No one seemed too terribly worried that American credibility would be wounded by such interference with the president’s capacity to act decisively and with dispatch on the world stage.

That is probably because the editors recognize, even if it has temporarily escaped them in connection with Syria, that national credibility and presidential credibility are not the same thing. National credibility is a combination of factors that prominently include vital national interests and the public’s perception of those interests, as well as the president’s credibility. It is not Congress’s job to rescue a president’s credibility by approving his recklessness; it is the president’s job to preserve his credibility by aligning his “red lines” with the country’s interests rather than his own post-American ideology.

Libya did not, as the editors suggest, give up its nuclear program just because President Bush acted decisively in toppling Saddam Hussein. Qaddafi forfeited his program because the 9/11 attacks convinced the American public – including, for a time, much of the Left – that the U.S. could not abide the risk of WMD left in the hands of regimes that had a demonstrated propensity to cooperate with anti-American jihadists. Those political conditions induced Bush to act against Afghanistan and caused the public to support – again, for a time – action against Iraq. But once the public sensed that there was no longer a connection between Bush’s military operations and American national security – i.e., once the missions became more identified with dubious Islamic democracy promotion than with crushing terrorists and their state sponsors – political support waned. For all the Democrats’ “Bush lied and people died” demagoguery, the problem was not President Bush’s credibility; it was that the incoherent and costly missions no longer seemed to be in America’s vital interests.

The editors’ related point about Iran and Hezbollah is similarly ill-conceived. Iran already knows the United States is not serious about warnings not to acquire WMDs. For decades, we have known that Iran’s client, Assad, has chemical weapons; that Iran has some WMD and is working assiduously to add nukes to its arsenal; and that the mullahs facilitate terrorist organizations in attacks against the United States. In response, we have done virtually nothing. As for Hezbollah – which is Iran’s forward terrorist wing and has had a working relationship with al-Qaeda since the early Nineties – its operatives have killed hundreds of Americans, again with no comeuppance. In light of this shameful history of epic, bipartisan national-security failure, do the editors seriously think Iran and Hezbollah’s judgment about American credibility hangs on today’s comparative trifle – viz., whether Congress authorizes strikes against Syria so limited that Obama vows they will not seek or achieve regime change? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the “self-inflicted humiliation” train left the station long ago.

The issue in Syria is not Obama’s credibility. It is that there is no national interest in seeing one set of America’s mortal enemies prevail over another, while there is merit in letting them beat each others’ brains in if that’s what they’re determined to do. If a threat were to arise tomorrow in which American national security were truly at stake, Congress’s refusal to endorse Obama’s bungling of episodes in which it was not at stake would make no difference – no more than the Left’s campaign to delegitimize and discredit Bush after the 2000 election debacle had the slightest impact on Bush’s capacity to respond rapidly and robustly to the 9/11 attacks.

Since there is no American interest in seeing factions dominated by al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood prevail over Assad and his backers, the editors have to invent one. Thus, with an unintentionally amusing admonition against any “unrealistic expectation for what we can achieve in Syria,” the editors call for “strengthening elements of the Syrian opposition we can trust.” And who are those elements? The editors don’t say – after all, to describe them accurately would be to admit that they do not exist in anything approaching the numbers capable of overcoming the Islamic supremacists on opposing sides of the civil war.

The editors apparently believe this void can be filled by what I’ve called the “Vacuum” fantasy. This narrative, popular among neoconservatives and Beltway Republicans, holds that our problems in the Middle East stem not from the region’s Islamic supremacist culture but from the vacuum supposedly created by what the editors call “Obama’s policy of passivity.” It is this policy, we are to believe, that has caused the Syrian opposition to become “more radical.” Apparently, if the administration had been more engaged, the Muslim Brotherhood would have melted away – although, given that Obama’s idea of engagement is to promote the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s not altogether clear how this would have worked.

In reality, the Assad regime’s most powerful opponents – like Mubarak’s, like Qaddafi’s – have always been Islamic supremacists. They were kept in check by the ruthlessness of the dictators, particularly Assad the elder, who slaughtered thousands of Islamic supremacists in the 1982 Hama massacre. What has changed in recent years is that the American-supported policy of replacing dictators with Potemkin democracy – i.e., popular elections sans commitment to minority rights and democratic culture – has empowered the opposition. It turns out that Islamic supremacists are, if anything, more anti-democratic than the dictators, and just as brutal when they get their hands on power. The American policy in question is not one Obama came up with, even if his unabashed embrace of Islamic supremacists has made things worse.

The editors would have the administration “craft and lead an international coalition committed to a post-Assad Syria.” Committed to what kind of post-Assad Syria? Again, they don’t say, other than that, whatever it will be, it will require “staying engaged beyond the next few weeks.”

So is the plan to do Iraq again – at enormous cost, occupy a country in which the only thing opposing Islamists agree about is how much they hate us and our occupation . . . until we finally get out of the way and let them get back to killing each other? Do we promote free elections and guarantee a Muslim Brotherhood regime – i.e., do Morsi Act II in Syria? Do we keep pretending, à la John McCain, that jihadists are “moderates” we can work with, that their Allahu Akbar!-raving aggression is no different from the religious devotion of average American Christians? Or do we prop up a pro-American Mubarak-type dictator who could never win a free election and try not to notice how he goes about taming Islamic supremacists? Whatever the plan is, where is the unified international coalition supporting it going to come from? And with no one able to articulate how getting sucked into Syria advances American national security, where is the American political support going to come from?

As for the editors’ parting shot, conservative non-interventionists are not foolish enough to believe “we can be done with the world.” We just insist on dealing with the world as it actually is – in the Middle East, it is more like Benghazi than Shangri-La. We want our liabilities limited by our reality, not our dreams. There are many ways for the United States to remain engaged and pursue its limited interests in Syria without military intervention and without empowering our enemies. That may sound “simple,” but better that than delusional.

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Additional Editor’s Note – In paragraph 14, an extra “the” was in the following sentence: “…I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the “self-inflicted humiliation” the train left the station long ago” – we have removed this minor error above.

Vallely Syria trip Update – Intel gathered on Syria now on display

UPDATE – 7:53 EDT

FSA within a mere 6 KM of Presidential Palace.

UPDATE – 7:40 EDT

Bashar al-Assad wounded in attack, is now in a Latakia, Syria hospital.

According to the FSA, the Damascus bomb was not a suicide bomber. It was a set bomb that was remotely detonated.

Assad was evacuated to the Alewite stronghold on the coast.

By Scott W. Winchell

MG Vallely and his group met with Syrian opposition forces in June on the Turkish/Syrian border near Idlib, Syria and much has happened since. The news has been buzzing from his breaking news on chemical weapons and more. The information is still flowing, and these communications were never more important than now.

We are witnessing the final push for the termination of Syria’s Bashar Assad regime. Events have escalated and the chaos of destruction and bloody deaths are headlining this interior war. Assad’s inner circle was devastated yesterday in the explosion in Damascus:

Vallely meets with Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey on the Syrian border in June

…the Syrian Defense Ministry was bombed in Damascus. Defense Minister Dawood Rajha, and his Deputy, Assad Shawket – Assad’s brother in law – and General Mohamed Al Chaar were both confirmed dead in the blast. Former Defense minister, Hassan Turkmani died later from injuries.

What does this mean? It means the full aggressive assaults occurring now and the bloodshed will escalate as the dog is cornered. It is also likely to escalate into regional chaos as desperate measures are unleashed, locally, and abroad.

Free Syrian and SLA forces are pressing across the nation. Again, the warning cannot be loud enough, what happens there, will impact the west – today is another example of the dangers lurking on a scale reaching all corners of the globe.

We are seeing mass Syrian military and political defections, pin point attacks on regime leaders, the reported exodus of Assad’s family to Latakia, Turkey, the quick organization of new units of freedom fighters, and bellicose ranting coming from Moscow over any UN intervention. The Russians are worried, their naval base at Tartus is a key aspect of their future plans.

According to PolicyMic writer Ahmed Median who is currently stationed across the border from Syria in Lebanon, the rebel Free Syrian Army is now moving freely the Syrian capital, Damascus. Dozens of military chiefs have reportedly defected and fled to Cyprus. Five more with the command of 120 tanks defected today after the attacks and it is expected that regime is going to lose control over many cities where protests have raged for the last year.

Today, on the anniversary of the 1994 Buenos Aires bombing incident, we also saw Hezbollah, a staunch supporter of Assad bomb several buses of Jewish youth in Bulgaria. These are not isolated events – they are all tied together. The bloodshed has again spilled into Tripoli, Lebanon as well. The tension in Lebanon is at a point not seen since the civil wars according to Michele Aoun, where the Palestinians and Hezbollah have engaged.

Since Stand Up America broke the story on chemical weapons the Assad Regime possesses based on intelligence gathered on MG Vallely’s trip to the Turkish border with Syria, the situation has unfolded exactly as he was briefed. The SUA team led by MG Vallely met with Syrian Opposition Leaders and provided intel spec-ops plans that now seem to be working at a faster pace than anticipated.

Since the trip, the press confirmed that chemical weapons were being moved, and a high-ranking defector said he was “convinced” Assad would use chemical weapons on the Syrian people.  However, what they failed to expound on was that they have already been used.

Sources also tell us that Assad is now keeping his CW arsenal mobile for fear of attacks from not only the rebels, but possibly from Israel or other outside forces, where the WMD’s are known to be in several locations as SUA has previously reported. There is also the fear of the weapons landing in the hands of Hezbollah as the regime falls to its knees. Mobility is key, and chaos ensures us that some of these munitions will find interesting new homes (read Lebanon, al Qaeda). The FSA is also reporting that Assad’s forces are being fitted with gas masks.

FSA and SLA leaders told MG Vallely in June that the weapons had already been used in several locations, including Homs, but independent verification has been impossible to obtain. General Vallely had explained also of the freedom fighters gaining great confidence, showing a new sense of urgency, and the adoption of high order intelligence gathering and organization.

The fighters had indeed learned how to employ emerging actionable intelligence. They are now able to perform quick hitting operations because they were no longing just defending street corners and enclaves. Instead, they had prepared units to be deployed at a moment’s notice.

Information is still flowing to MG Vallely from the leaders of the Syrian freedom fighters, and updates will be made when we are cleared to post them. Much is happening, and the fluidity of events is likely to become an even thicker fog of war, a fog bank that is spreading to many places.

Now that the end is near, the Washington Institute reports:

Today’s apparent assassination of top military officials in Syria marks a new and possibly decisive phase in the civil war between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the broad, loosely coordinated, but clearly potent opposition. For the United States, this turn of events should shift the policy discussion from a UN debate over renewal of the ineffectual Annan peacekeeping mission to ways of exploiting the disarray, namely by pressing Assad to leave power while avoiding outcomes such as chaos, ethnic bloodbath, or jihadist takeover.

MG Vallely reiterates what he was told by opposition forces, “The freedom fighters want a true peace, a secular nationalistic government, and peace with her neighbors. They do not want to follow what happened in Egypt.”