A perennial PR theme of the Syrian regime since the civil war and uprising erupted in March 2011 was that the opposition was all Islamist extremists and Al-Qaeda, and that there were no secular or democratic forces involved in the uprising against the government.
On Monday, in an interview with Foreign Affairs magazine, Bashar Al-Assad reiterated this accusation. He also alleged Israel is helping Al-Qaeda in Syria. He said that some Syrians joke, semi-seriously: “How can you say that Al-Qaeda doesn’t have an air force? They have the Israeli air force.” He claimed that periodic Israeli strikes on Syrian army positions all seemed well-timed to coincide with rebel offensives.
While claims that there are no legitimate grievances against the government should be dismissed, there is growing evidence that Israel may genuinely be working with the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
This is not as outlandish a claim as…
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