A delegation of Syrian rebels has made a deal with Pristina authorities to exchange experience of partisan warfare. Syrian opposition is sending militants to Kosovo for adopting tactics and being trained to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime.
On April 26, a delegation of Syrian opposition members made a stop in Pristina on their way from the US to hold talks on how to make use of the experience of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in Syria, reports Associated Press.
So far, a poorly-organized Syrian opposition has proven unable to self-organize and form a steady front against the forces of President Assad. Terror tactics used by militants allow them to kill military and governmental officials, but do not help to hold positions against a regular army.
“We come here to learn. Kosovo has walked this path and has an experience that would be very useful for us,” says the head of the Syrian delegation Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian-born human rights activist and dissident. “In particular, we’d like to know how scattered armed groups were finally organized into KLA.”
Syrian opposition leaders have promised to immediately recognize Kosovo once they seize power in the country.
“We’re in vital need of joint actions as a coalition opposition,” stressed Ammar Abdulhamid, a long-time opponent of the Syria’s President Bashar Assad. In 2005, he left Syria to settle in the US.
The training camp on the Albanian-Kosovo border that has welcomed Syrian attendees was originally organized by the US to help the KLA train its fighters.
The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years until, in 1998, it was taken off the list of terrorists with no explanation given. The KLA used to have up to 10 per cent of underage fighters in its ranks.
There were numerous reports of the KLA having contacts with Al-Qaeda, getting arms from that terrorist organization, getting its militants trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan and even having members of Al-Qaeda in its ranks fighting against Serbs.
In 1998-1999 Kosovo separatists started an armed conflict with Belgrade to split the Kosovo region from Serbia. The war in the region was marked with mass atrocities and executions of the civilian population. Most of the Serbs that used to live in Kosovo became refugees.
In 2008, 10 years after the beginning of armed conflict with Serbia, Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Belgrade. Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by leading Western countries, most members of NATO and countries associated with the bloc.
The same horrors that were witnessed during the war in Kosovo are now apparently being prepared for the multi-confessional Syrian population by Islamist Syrian Liberation Army trained in Muslim Kosovo in the middle of Europe.
The Syrian Liberation Army group that actually formed the delegation to Kosovo has been fighting with the Syrian government for over a year now. This stand-off has claimed well over 9,000 lives, about half of them Syrian servicemen, law enforcers and officials.
Lately, the militants have been squeezed out of the Syrian cities and their positions along the Syrian-Turkish border. Being unable to turn the tide independently, the Syrian Liberation Army has been addressing to its foreign sponsors to start a military intervention into Syria to topple President Bashar Assad.
However, Global Research Dot CA Contributor Benjamin Schett told RT the Syrian rebels would not learn much in terms of military tactics from the KLA.
“The so-called Kosovo Liberation Army – this terrorist group – had in fact already been defeated by the Serbian army in 1998.”
Schett says that once Serbia agreed on a ceasefire, pulled back troops, and let in OSCE observers, the KLA used this situation to intensify their attacks so as to provoke a military reaction.
He continued that by presenting themselves as freedom fighters and victims to the Western media, the KLA secured a Western intervention in March 1999 after they staged a fake massacre in Račak.
Schett believes the Syrian rebels would go to Kosovo for knowledge in public relations techniques. He says despite their lack of military prowess, they were adept at making the Western public believe they were fighting for a justified cause amid reports they had committed a slew of war crimes and human rights abuses.
Wiping out local minorities after an extensive NATO air-strike were the only combat tactics the KLA had mastered and the only thing the Syrian opposition can really learn from them, foreign affairs editor for the US-based Chronicles magazine, Srdja Trifcovich, told RT.
RT: Just what might the Syrian opposition learn at these camps?
Srdja Trifcovich: Well, first of all I don’t think they can learn much from the KLA veterans in terms of combat efficiency because the KLA was singularly unsuccessful in its rebellion against the Serbian security forces until the NATO bombing. They started their terrorist ambushes in 1997. They intensified their activities in 1998. But all along it was atrocity management that they wanted, for instance, the famous case of Racak where the combat victims were presented as innocent civilian dead slaughtered by the Serbs.
But even during the bombing the Serbian forces maintained full control of all of the key population centers and they even kept the roads open. It’s only that the KLA came in after the Serbs started withdrawing under the terms of the ceasefire with NATO. And even then they were not engaging in combat, they were acting as marauders ethnically cleansing non-Albanians. So the first point is that there is nothing to learn in terms of combat efficiency and in terms of actually organizing a successful guerilla force.
RT: Words that have been associated with the KLA – assassination, terror, bombings – is that really the kind of thing that the Syrian opposition wants to be associated with?
ST: It seems that they don’t care, because I understand that Ammar Abdulhamid, one of the Syrian opposition leaders who came to Pristina and actually spoke to an AP reporter, said “We are here to learn.” Now this should be a huge wake-up call for those Syrians who are not supportive of the opposition, especially the minorities: the Alawites, the Christians – either Orthodox or Greek Catholic – the Shiites, the Kurds. The moderate Sunni Muslims should remember that if the Syrian rebels learn from the KLA, that means there will be a bloodbath after the fall of Assad and there will be no room for anyone but the majority group which subscribes to its extremist credo, whether it is that of greater Albania in Kosovo or the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot in Syria.