Syria, the Times and the Mystery of the "Moderate Rebels"

October 3, 2015 1:37 AM

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After a two-year absence from the international stage -- during which the mainstream media dispatched them to the realm of nonexistent entities -- on October 1 the "moderate rebels" of Syria were back. The New York Times said so. Russian attacks were targeting moderates rather than ISIS, a man with a camera was quoted saying; and the Times story by Anne Barnard appeared to confirm his suspicion; even as a companion report on Russian actions in Syria by Helene Cooper, Michael R. Gordon, and Neil MacFarquhar revealed that these are the same moderates who were carefully vetted by the CIA, and concerning whom little was heard ever after. Their numbers are put at 3,000 to 5,000, though the Cooper-Gordon-MacFarquhar article leaves uncertain if that is their original or their present strength. This illumination, after so long a blackout, will doubtless be a subject for inquiry in coming days. Why it would seem worthwhile for the Russians to attack so small a force, neither of the Times stories bothered to say; nor did they explain why, if the moderate rebels are anti-Jihadist, they were allowed to garrison in the town of Talbiseh in a region north of Homs that (according to the veteran Middle East reporter Patrick Cockburn) has been "ruled" for the past two years "by Jabhat al-Nusra and associated extreme Islamist groups."

Among the areas hit was the base of a group that had been supported and supplied by the United States and its allies, said its leader, Jamil Saleh. He said the group's base had been hit severely in Hama Province, wounding eight of his men. Later on Wednesday, American officials confirmed that some g...

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