“Assad is the root cause of ISIS,” stated on Monday Hadi al-Bahra, the President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, at a press conference at UNHQ in New York, under the auspices of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA).
Al-Bahra, a 55 year-old, American trained engineer, explained in fluent English the dire state his country is in. “We need immediate airstrikes to stem the tide against the ISIS attacks on the Kurdish villages, as of yesterday, 200 Kurdish villages have been overrun, with 130,000 refugees, today, I believe the number of villages ransacked by ISIS is up to 300, with 200,000 refugees. We need immediate help against ISIS. We only need arms and supplies. Nobody wants ‘boots on the ground.’”
Al-Bahra said immediate military and economic help were critical, “We are the first line of defense against ISIS. If they defeat the moderate opposition in Syria, nothing will stop them coming to Europe. And the longer Assad is power, the larger ISIS will grow.”
Al-Bahra commands the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that is the ‘moderate’ group of Syrians that started the revolution against Assad 3½ years ago, and which has been battling ISIS for over a year.
The rebel leader explained the FSA is fighting a “two-front war” against Assad to the West and ISIS to the east.
He said that not only is Assad “the root cause of ISIS,” but also that Assad has become a tactical battle-field ally of ISIS. This claim echoed a New York Times article that described a similar trend in Assad’s target selection. Al-Bahra described how Assad’s drops barrel-bombs and fires scuds at FSA positions and cities, while he leaves ISIS-controlled cities untouched.”
Al-Bahra even said, “while FSA were in battles with ISIS Assad’s planes where dropping bombs on our positions and left ISIS formations alone,” thus helping ISIS defeat the FSA in those battles.
This shows that Assad and ISIS must be sharing battlefield-intelligence that could be detected by American intelligence satellites. So, it may also be clear to American intelligence that Assad has been bolstering ISIS.
President al-Bahra explained Assad’s ‘Destroy-FSA/Bolster-ISIS’ strategy thus: by “destroying the FSA’s forces, Assad gives the West the ‘impression’ that 'It’s either ISIS, or Assad,’ and since Assad is ‘lesser of the two evils,’ go with Assad.”
With 17 million Sunnis still in Syria, and only 3 million Alawites, Assad’s sectarian clan, President al-Bahra confidently stated, “We’re never going away, we’re everywhere in Syria we are the Syrian people,” and the revolution is for all Syrians to “free ourselves of a tyrant.”
But the real fireworks came when asked, “Secretary Kerry has said Iran could help, How Iran could help?” President al-Bahra had a simple answer, “Iran must stop co-partnering with Assad to commit mass-murder war-crimes against the Syrian people. Iran now has Iranian sectarian militias in Syria committing war-crimes against Syrian civilians, and it is arming Assad with fuel and weapons. There is no solution without Iran stopping their war-crimes, and their sectarian influence.”
President al-Bahra sketched out his vision of Syria that he stated was always a “moderate Muslim country” which respected Christianity for millennium, and where “language of Jesus was still spoken today.” He emphasized, “the Syria people want a democratic, non-sectarian peaceful country where everyone respects everyone else. Anybody who forces their religion on someone else by force of arms or threats is an enemy of the Syrian people.”
Pamela Falk, President of UNCA, CBS's head UN correspondent and doyenne of the UN press corps, led the press conference on a wide variety of issues relating to the state of play in Syria.