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Attempts to Distinguish Syrian Moderates From Terrorist Factions Flawed

Attempts to Distinguish Syrian Moderates From Terrorist Factions Flawed Attempts to Distinguish Syrian Moderates From Terrorist Factions Flawed

At least 15 rebel forces in Syria are ready to succeed the self-styled Islamic State terrorists, if it is defeated by the US-led coalition, new research suggests.

The Center on Religion and Geopolitics, linked to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, also argues that attempts by world powers to distinguish between moderate and extremist factions are flawed, BBC reported.

Western countries have stepped up airstrikes against IS in Syria and Iraq. But the center said the greatest danger to the international community was groups who share the IS ideology, but are currently being ignored.

They number about 100,000 fighters, the center said.

“The West risks making a strategic failure by focusing only on IS,” the center said. “We cannot bomb an ideology, but our war is ideological.”

If IS is defeated, dispersed fighters and other extremists could attack targets outside Syria under a rallying cry that “the West destroyed the Caliphate”, the center warned.

Such new groups could compete for the spotlight to ensure allegiance from the global fighters and financing that IS currently attracts. By contrast, fewer than a quarter of the rebels surveyed were not ideological, the center said.

But many of those were willing to fight alongside extremists and would probably accept a political settlement to the civil war, it claimed.

In response, the military campaign against IS must be accompanied by an “intellectual and theological defeat of the pernicious ideology that drives it”, the center said.

Financialtribune.com