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Albin Szakola & Ullin Hope

CIA-vetted Aleppo rebels lash out at Jordan

The Nour al-Din al-Zenki faction in Aleppo criticized Amman following reports the country would blacklist the rebel group.

Nour al-Din al-Zenki fighters. (image via AlSouria.net)

BEIRUT – A powerful rebel group in Aleppo which in the past received weapons from the US has lashed out at Jordan following reports Amman would include the faction in a list of terror groups it is preparing for upcoming Syria peace talks.

 

“Jordan should review its policy which is in keeping with Syrian intelligence’s philosophy of designating everyone who fights Assad as a terrorist and forgetting the Shiite militias of criminality,” a spokesperson for the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement said in an angry statement on Twitter.

 

Captain Abdul-Salam Ahmad Abdul-Razzaq added that “Jordan should be brief and say that the Syrian people are terrorists and that the regime and the criminal militias are the victim.”

 

During the November Vienna talks on Syria, Jordan was tasked with formulating a list of terrorist groups in the war-torn country that would be the target of mutually agreed upon airstrikes by the rival powers currently intervening in the conflict.

 

The US and Russia have been engaged in a flurry of talks aimed at brokering a ceasefire in Syria that would be followed by a joint campaign against ISIS and other groups included in the Jordanian-coordinated blacklist.

 

Amman has made no public statements on the terrorist list, however Syrian opposition media has been abuzz over reports it would include the independent Nour al-Din al-Zenki insurgents as well as the hardline Islamist Ahrar al-Sham rebel group.

 

Ahrar al-Sham joined the Saudi-brokered effort to unify the Syrian opposition ahead of the planned January peace talks, while Nour al-Din al-Zenki announced its support for the Riyadh accord that calls on opposition factions to select a delegation to negotiate with the Assad regime.

 

Nour al-Din al-Zenki is one of the largest rebel groups operating around Aleppo, with the Institute for the Study of War classifying it as one of only twelve groups in Syria that is a “powerbroker, or faction powerful enough to determine “the success of military operations against either the Syrian regime or ISIS.”

 

The rebel group has been reportedly financed and armed by the Turkey-based Military Operation Center that is supervised by the US Central Intelligence Agency. The Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement was one of a number of Aleppo insurgent factions armed with US-manufactured TOW anti-tank missiles.

 

However, the current status of Nour al-Din al-Zenki’s ties with the MOC remains murky, with a spokesperson from the group telling Voice of America News in late October that it has not recently received TOW missiles.

 

Jordan blacklist report

 

Al-Quds al-Arabi journalist Ahmed al-Masri speaks with Deutsche Welle.

 

Amid Jordan’s silence over its efforts to formulate a list of terrorist groups in Syria, a journalist with a London-based daily claimed that Amman was preparing to include Nour al-Din al-Zenki.

 

Al-Quds al-Arabi’s online managing editor Ahmed Almasri claimed in a Sunday interview with Deutsche Welle’s Arabic-language outlet that he had acquired a preliminary list of the factions blacklisted so far by Jordan.

 

He said that in addition to ISIS and Nusra, Amman has included several factions operating in northern Syria, including Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, Fajr al-Islam, Nour al-Din al-Zenki Battalions, Jamaat al-Talia al-Islamiya, and Jund al-Aqsa.

 

“This list, if it appears in the same form that it has reached us, will explode the Riyadh conference from its foundations,” Almasri warned in reference to the agreement reached last Thursday among Syrian opposition figures in a Saudi-backed conference.

 

Syrian opposition outlets quickly picked up on Almasri’s claims, however Amman has made no official response.

 

Major Arabic-language outlets, for their part, have not published any reports indicating that Jordan was set to blacklist Nour al-Din al-Zenki.

 

Meanwhile, Russia’s RIA Novosti news reported Thursday that Jordan had submitted to Moscow a list of “160 organizations possibly tied to terrorist groups in Syria.”

 

“The list is expected to be agreed upon during the ministerial meeting on Syria on December 18 in New York,” RIA Novosti cited a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying. 

Nour al-Din al-Zenki fighters. (image via AlSouria.net)

Jordan should be brief and say that the Syrian people are terrorists and that the regime and the criminal militias are the victim.