March 25, 2014 (Mimi Al Laham) – The downing
of a Syrian jet by Turkey was not an isolated incident but part of a
major offensive by Al Qaeda affiliated groups Jabhat Al Nusra (designated a terrorist organization by the US State Department) and Ahrar
Al Sham against a northwestern Syrian-Turkish border crossing. Turkey has been
supporting Al Qaeda’s attack on the Kassab border crossing, the only
crossing that was still held by the Syrian military. While the AFP did report that
the group involved in the attack was the AlQaeda faction Jabhat Al
Nusra , this fact has not made it to any mainstream media headline.
Al Qaeda offshoot fighting along side Jabhat Al Nusra in the offensive
is ‘Ahrar Al Sham’. While the rebel group is not yet designated Al Qaeda
by the US State Department, the group was founded by Abu Khaled as-Suri,
Al Zawahiri’s ambassador to Syria. Ahrar Al Sham was described as ‘Al Qaeda worth befriending’ by
the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Washington’s premier think tank.
Charles Lister, a fellow at of the Brookings Institution, tweets video of Ahrar Al Sha’am taking part in the attack on Latakia.
|Image: Al Qaeda rockets fall on Latakia province, killing 7 and injuring 30.|
It was reported
that Turkey had begun shelling inside Syrian soil to back the offensive
on the border point. Turkish artillery and tanks targeted Syrian
positions, and Turkish special forces have been observed in the
region. A Lebanon based satelite channel Al Mayadeen TV reported
that the Syrian Army launched a counterattack on the border point Nabie
Al Murr with Turkey , along with dense artillery cover. In response
to the Syrian defensive measures against the AlQaeda attack, Turkey
downed a Syrian jet that was firing on the Al Qaeda militants from Syrian airspace. Turkey’s claims that the Syrian jet violated Turkish airspace
is contradicted by the fact the plane crashed over Syrian territory as shown
in a video posted by Al Qaeda in the area. The pilot managed to safely eject and was picked up in Syria, and was even interviewed by Syrian state TV.
The Al Qaeda attack and takeover of the Kassab border crossing has caused up to 2000 to 6000 Armenian Syrians to flee the area. Mass looting and destruction of religious sites was reported
by residents (similarto criminal acts carried out in the recently liberated city of Yabroud).
Armenians are once again refugees due to the Turkish government
like their ancestors who fled the Armenian Holocaust decades ago.
The battles in Latakia are ongoing, with the Syrian military inflicting heavy losses on Al Qaeda militants.