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WASHINGTON – Not only has the United States decided to begin providing weapons to the Syrian opposition, now Sunni Muslim clerics from the Gulf Cooperating Council countries, which are backed by the U.S. in arming and providing fighters to the opposition, have issued a fatwa calling for a “holy war” against Syria and its Shiite allies, principally Hezbollah, according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The fatwa, which signals the beginning of an all-out Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict, comes as foreign fighters led by the al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra killed 60 Shiite civilians in Hatla, Syria. Many were women and children.
The homes of the 60 Shiites were burned down. The Sadeq al-Amin rebel brigade torched the Shiite homes because of the residents’ support for the regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is a Shiite Alawite.
The foreign fighters are backed principally by Qatar and Saudi Arabia in their efforts to overthrow the Assad government.
In addition to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Sunni GCC countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
Syria is engaged in a civil war, but outsiders, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey – all of whom are backed by the U.S. – have been providing financial and logistical support and fighters from various brigades affiliated with al-Qaida, such as Jabhat al-Nusra. There are an estimated 50,000 such al-Qaida-affiliated foreign fighters.
Opposing them are Shia Iran, its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, as well as Russia and China.
Now, the U.S. wants to send arms to the opposition based on an “intelligence assessment” that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the opposition.
The “assessment” – whose contents remain classified – goes against an initial finding a few months ago by a special investigative team from the United Nations that determined the opposition used the chemical weapons in an artillery attack on the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
A similar “intelligence assessment” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction prompted the U.S. to invade Iraq in March 2003. After the spending $1 trillion and losing more than 4,500 U.S. military personnel, the country politically leans toward Iran.
The weapons the Obama administration is to provide remain open to question. There still is the issue of determining how the weapons will not get to the increasing number of al-Qaida fighters who are mixed in with the Syrian opposition and in many cases are leading the fighting in Syria.
Al-Qaida ultimately wants to create a Sunni Wahhabi caliphate, which would subject some 23 million Syrians to Islamic law, or Shariah.
“(President Barack) Obama actually did not want to invoke direct military aid to the rebels fighting to topple the Assad government or even to make use of American military power in Syria for several reasons,” according to Beirut-based international lawyer Franklin Lamb.
“Among these are the lack of American public support for yet another American war in the Middle East, the fact that there appears to be no acceptable alternative to the Assad government on the horizon, the position of the U.S. intelligence community and the State Department and Pentagon that intervention in Syria would potentially turn out very badly for the U.S. and gut what’s left of its influence in the region.”
Now, Iran has announced plans to send some 4,000 troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
For some time, IRGC advisers have been working alongside Syrian military commanders to help reverse the recent losses by the government. The assistance has been so effective that the Syrian government could regain much of the country within the next six months, sources say.
The most recent massacre of the 60 Shiites underscores the increasing sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis into which the Syrian crisis is quickly evolving, with the high prospect it will overflow into neighboring Lebanon.
Sources say the introduction of more weapons in an already volatile crisis will only exacerbate the crisis in Syria and expand it throughout the entire Middle East region.
Such a development ultimately will pit Shiite Iran against Sunni Saudi Arabia, but with a questionable involvement by the United States, which already has been involved in four other Middle East wars.
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