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The Independent

Syria’s moderate rebel groups launch
‘soft power’ plan to beat Islamists

In a bid to counter the growing influence in Syria of militant groups linked to al-Qa’ida, moderate rebels are launching a campaign to win the hearts and minds of civilians living in opposition-held areas.

 

Mimicking tactics used by the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham (Isis), an offshoot of al-Qa’ida, the Syrian opposition is to focus greater efforts on “soft power” by increasing the provision of badly needed humanitarian aid and services to areas in most need.

 

The move comes in response to an unprecedented campaign by Isis over the past year to win the support of Syrians living in the areas it controls and achieve its stated goal of creating an Islamic caliphate in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Used to working in the shadows, the radical Islamist group – the recipient of a steady flow of cash through an established, global funding network – has taken to holding “family fun days”, in order to distribute food in areas where it is scarce, and setting up its own schools and courts. In doing so, Isis has been able to gain a foothold in areas in which it would normally have been shunned.

 

(The Independent/Richard Hall)


Continue reading at The Independent.

The move comes in response to an unprecedented campaign by Isis over the past year to win the support of Syrians living in the areas it controls.