Syrian rebels set to "lay down arms" if no aid received in week
Syrian rebels have been intensely fighting ISIS in parts of the Aleppo province, as well as in Raqa and Deir Ezzor (File Archive/AFP)
Syrian rebels will lay down their arms within the next week if they do not receive support from the exiled opposition to fight against the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), according to Agence France Presse Wednesday.
Opposition fighters from northern and eastern Syria released a statement saying, "We, the leaders of the brigades and battalions... give the National Coalition, the (opposition) interim government, the (rebel) Supreme Military Council and all the leading bodies of the Syrian revolution a week to send reinforcements and complete aid. Should our call not be heard, we will lay down our weapons and pull out our fighters," the statement said.
ISIS, who is now referring to itself as the "Islamic State" (IS) after Sunday's announcement of the caliphate, has seized territory in at least five of Iraq's provinces within the past month, and controls the areas of Raqa, Deir Ezzor and parts of Aleppo in Syria as well.
"Our popular revolution (against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad)... is today under threat because of the (Islamic State), especially after it announced a caliphate," said the statement.
The groups who signed and released the statement represent some of the most hard-pressed groups fighting the IS in Raqa, Deir Ezzor and Aleppo provinces.
The rebels' statement comes days after U.S. president Barack Obama urged Washington lawmakers to support legislation that would direct funds to Syria's moderate opposition to train and equip them in their fight against not only the Assad regime, but also the IS.
Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated Obama's appeal during his visit to Riyadh last week, saying, "The moderate Syrian opposition... has the ability to be a very important player in pushing back against (the jihadists') presence."
IS was previously linked with Al Qaeda, but was disowned by the international terrorist group earlier this year due to a fallout between IS and Al Qaeda's top leadership.