FIGHTING ISIS: Jamal Maarouf, the leader of the FSA-aligned Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), discussed his organization’s recent campaign, in a clip posted to YouTube Monday, against the Islamic State of Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) in northern Syria and called for Syrians and foreign fighters alike to “defect from ISIS.”
Since January 2, the SRF—which was formed in December 2013 as a response to the increasing prominence of hardline Islamist factions within Syria—has fought alongside the Islamic Front and other rebel organizations to dislodge ISIS from a number of strongholds in northern Syria, and has laid siege to ISIS’ position in the northeastern city of Raqqa.
The impetus for the operation, Maarouf explains, was a growing trend of ISIS aggression against other rebel groups: “Following the proliferation of acts of killing and destruction carried out by ISIS against our forces and those of the FSA, and following the increasing seizures of rebel weapons and ammunitions, and, most recently, after an ISIS raid five days ago on the 46th Brigade—which is loyal to the SRF—we decided to confront ISIS.”
The group is losing territory “every hour of every day,” Maarouf says.
Maarouf emphasized a widely held view that, despite its reputation for battlefield prowess, ISIS has done more to harm the Syrian uprising than to help it. “They didn’t liberate any territories, they usurped them from the people, they usurped them from the mujahideen who sacrificed dozens of martyrs to liberate those areas. They came in at the end, cold-blooded, extended their control over areas and then claimed to be struggling in the path of God.”
Highlights from the interview, with translation courtesy of Syria Direct’s Alex Simon:
“2:00 Jabhat a-Nusra are our brothers in the jihad and ideology, they participated in several areas.
Five days ago, an ISIS faction raided the 46th Brigade.
1:10—To this point, the faction that has clearly declared its position is the SRF.
1:45 In the first day of fighting, we purged 70% of Idlib.
2:40 Every day, every hour ISIS loses a territory. They didn’t liberate any territories, they usurped them from the people, they usurped them from the mujahideen who sacrificed dozens of martyrs to liberate those areas. They came in last, cold-blooded, extended their control over them and then claimed to be struggling in the path of God.
3:30 At all times, we have avoided friction with any faction that attacked us. But when we saw, starting over two months ago, that ISIS’ mission was to divert the rebels from their essential goal [of toppling the regime], we decided it was necessary to fight them.
4:00 To this point, there are no negotiations. But we have several conditions…
5:15 Today, God willing, we will finish with our work in the city of Saraqib.
5:40 If you continue with ISIS, you serve the regime. If you defect from ISIS, ahlan wa sahlan bikum, what’s ours is yours and our duty is your duty.”