In his first interview after winning the presidency, Donald Trump hinted that he will shift policy in the Syria conflict from one of support for the moderate opposition to collaboration with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS,” Trump said. As for the rebels that the U.S. has backed fitfully for the past three years, he said: “We have no idea who these people are.”
But the president-elect appears to be ill informed about Assad’s key role in the rise of the so-called Islamic State.
In this three-part series, Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative reporter Roy Gutman documents the Syrian dictator’s sinister contributions to this tale of terrorism and horror.
First, Assad tried to ingratiate himself with Western leaders by portraying the national uprising against him as a terrorist-led revolt. When that failed, he released jailed Islamic extremists who’d fought against U.S. troops in Iraq, then staged phony attacks on government facilities, which he blamed on terrorists. Far from fighting ISIS, Assad looked the other way when it set up a state-within-a-state with its capital in Raqqa, and left it to the U.S. and others to take the battle to the Islamic extremists.
(…)A string of mystery suicide bombings had targeted major security installations in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, starting in late December 2011
The first sign the regime was behind the bombings was when a top military aide to President Bashar al Assad stopped by al Ali’s office to examine his security arrangements.
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