National Security Brief: The Civil War Within Syria’s Civil War Escalates

(Credit: AFP/Getty)

Secular Syrian rebels said on Friday that the assassination of one of their top commanders by al-Qaeda linked militants in the country “was tantamount to a declaration of war, opening a new front for the Western-backed fighters struggling against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces,” Reuters reports.

“We will not let them get away with it because they want to target us,” a senior Free Syria Army commander said, adding, “We are going to wipe the floor with them.”

Meanwhile, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces issued a statement on Thursday calling on Congress to allow U.S. arms to begin flowing to Syrian rebels “without delay.”

“The urgency of delivering these arms cannot be overstated as the regime continues to intensify its attacks on civilians and opposition forces in Homs, Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria,” said the group’s U.S. representative.

In other news:

  • The Los Angeles Times reports: With supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi calling for another mass rally Friday, Egypt’s military gave a fuller accounting of its role in deadly clashes this week, saying it opened fire only after encountering stones, gunfire, Molotov cocktails and even toilets hurled from rooftops.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports: Beyond the partisan rancor that has engulfed Egypt since the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, a class of Egyptians is emerging to support the deposed leader despite disaffection with his performance and their lack of affinity to Islamist thinking.
  • The Washington Post reports: Leading lawmakers called on the Obama administration Thursday to make and announce a decision on the size of the U.S. military force to remain in Afghanistan following combat withdrawal next year. “The lack of clarity on this point has led to too much hedging in the region,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said of the force commitment.
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