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BEIRUT, Lebanon – A source close to the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah says the only way to stop Sunni Wahhabi Islamist fighters backed by Saudi Arabia is to have the opposition Free Syrian Army combine forces with its adversary and rejoin the Syrian military, according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

“None of the Islamists in Syria should be allowed to leave, or else they will fight elsewhere,” according to the source, who asked not to be identified.

He said that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad falls, the odds are “100 percent al-Qaida will take over.”

“Then civil wars will break out also in Lebanon and Iraq,” he said.

The source pointed out that because of the disarray in the Free Syrian Army, al-Qaida and its affiliates and allies in Syria almost certainly will remain a problem in the country for years to come.

The source, and others, have told WND the U.S. has little choice now but to keep Assad in power because the alternative would be an al-Qaida initiative to set up Islamic caliphates under strict Shariah law by taking advantage of the fractured Syrian opposition.

“The FSA by itself is very weak,” the source added, “and would not be able to overtake the Islamist militants who have effectively taken over the Syrian opposition.”

If that were to happen, the sources say the entire Middle East would be taken over by al-Qaida, which is now increasing its forces in neighboring Lebanon.

The prospect that Assad could remain as head of Syria also was echoed in a recent meeting in London among senior members of the Syrian National Coalition and the anti-Assad Friends of Syria alliance, according to Western diplomats in a Voice of Russia report.

All of this is happening as the West and Russia prepare for the Geneva II talks slated to begin Jan. 22 in the Swiss town of Montreux.

While the Syrian opposition debates among itself on whether to attend and who would represent them at the conference, there also is the prospect that Iran will be invited to attend, sources say.

The talks sponsored by the U.S. and Russia aim to reach an agreement on a political transition in Syria, including the formation of an interim ruling authority. There is no indication, for now, of an attempt to force Assad’s removal.

In addition, there are increasing indications that Assad may run for re-election once his term is up in 2014.

At the same time, Western diplomats attending the London meeting said Assad could stay on but with “diminished powers,” a further indication that the U.S. is not now seeking regime change in Damascus.

The Syrian government wants no preconditions as a basis for attending the Geneva II meeting.

If that plan is rejected, the diplomats say, the opposition “will lose most of the West,” suggesting there is dwindling confidence in the secular rebels to achieve their goal of replacing Assad and setting up an alternative government without al-Qaida dominating the effort.

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