Colonel Riyad al Assad, the founder of the Free Syrian Army and one of its top commanders, described the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, as “our brothers in Islam,” and commended the terror group for its prowess on the battlefield. The US government is currently supporting the Free Syrian Army with nonlethal military aid despite the fact that the Free Syrian Army backs the Al Nusrah Front and fights alongside it on the battlefield.
Riyad made the comments in an undated interview that was uploaded on YouTube on March 26. A transcript of the interview was obtained by The Long War Journal. Riyad was wounded last week in a bombing in Deir al Zour, a contested city on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria that is poised to fall under the control of the Al Nusrah Front.
When asked by the interviewer about his opinion of the Al Nusrah Front, he said the group’s “members are our brothers and they are Sunnis fighting against the regime.”
“They are our brothers in Islam. It is not our fault that Sunnis are fighting against the regime,” he continued.
Riyad then indicated that the Free Syrian Army provided direct support to the Al Nusrah Front.