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U.S.-Led Airstrikes on ISIS Turn Syrians Against Anti-Assad Rebels

/ Source: Reuters

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U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS militants in Syria are causing a public backlash against Western-backed moderate opponents of President Bashar Assad, rebels say. Civilian casualties from the week-old air campaign are endangering their support, complicating Washington's plan to use the rebels to combat the militants. "There is popular anger towards us," said rebel commander Ahmed al-Seoud, who defected from the Syrian army in 2012 and leads a rebel group known as the 13th Division. "We support airstrikes, but airstrikes against ISIS and the regime." His group defines itself as part of the "Free Syrian Army" — loosely affiliated non-Islamist factions, some of which are backed by donors including the United States.

The U.S. says it is investigating allegations of civilian deaths from the airstrikes. Syria's non-Islamist rebels are opposed to ISIS but are also in a fight for survival against Assad's army. "It is not to our advantage to fight (ISIS) at this time just because some Tomahawks are falling on them ... without knowing that the regime has completely lost air supremacy over us," said Abu Abdo Salabman from the political office of the FSA-affiliated Mujahideen Army.

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- Reuters

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