“I just don’t agree that a majority are al Qaeda and the bad guys. That’s not true. There are about 70,000 to 100,000 oppositionists … Maybe 15 percent to 25 percent might be in one group or another who are what we would deem to be bad guys. There is a real moderate opposition that exists. General Idriss is running the military arm of that,” Kerry continued, referring to General Salim Idriss, head of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Reuters, a veritable wrecking-ball against White House claims of late, fact-checks Kerry's assertion -- which I've been calling attention to since the words left his mouth. His assurances are debatable at best:
Secretary of State John Kerry’s public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements. … U.S. and allied intelligence sources and private experts on the Syrian conflict suggest that assessment is optimistic. While the radical Islamists among the rebels may not be numerically superior to more moderate fighters, they say, Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front are better organized, armed and trained.
According to this optimistic analysis, the dark gray areas currently held by extremists. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Kerry is right. Al Qaeda-aligned groups only account for 15-25 percent of rebel fighters in Syria. If that's the case, they've certainly managed to seize quite a lot of territory already, and that's without the FSA faltering. I'll close by reiterating a question I've asked several times: If we're going to equip "the good rebels," how can we vet those recipients and ensure that "bad rebels" don't procure those weapons without boots on the ground? Assad is atrocious. So are these monsters.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography