Pakistan Taliban says no shift to Syria

2013-07-16 15:52

Peshawar - The Pakistani Taliban on Tuesday rejected suggestions they were sending fighters to Syria, saying some have gone there independently but the movement's focus remained in Pakistan.

Taliban sources said some militants, mainly Arabs and Central Asians, had gone to fight the forces of President Bashar Assad, but a senior leader dismissed reports of them setting up camps in Syria.

The lawless tribal areas of northwest Pakistan along the Afghan border have long been a magnet for militants from across the Muslim world eager to fight US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan.

But since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, foreign jihadists have flocked to Syria, where disparate rebel groups are seeking his downfall.

Some media reports say scores of Pakistani Taliban are among them and they have set up camps in Syria.

A senior commander who sits on the shura or ruling council of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) told AFP there was no tactical shift and no decision had been made to send forces to Syria.

'Great evil is in Afghanistan'

"There is no reality in these reports, we have far better targets in the region, Nato troops headed by the Americans are present in Afghanistan," he said on condition of anonymity.

"We are already in a war with Pakistani troops. We support the mujahideen's struggle in Syria but in our opinion, we have a lot more to do here in Pakistan and Afghanistan."

The TTP is an umbrella group for numerous factions trying to bring down the Pakistani state and impose sharia law. It has ties to the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda.

"The great evil [America] is here in Afghanistan, troops from 30 kafir [non-believer] countries are attacking innocent people in Afghanistan, so Bashar Assad is not that important for us," the TTP commander said.

"Obama is the big evil, Americans are a much bigger evil for us. The Taliban shura has never discussed sending mujahideen to Syria."

Another mid-ranking TTP commander in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district which is a hotbed of Taliban and al-Qaeda activity, said some fighters had gone to Syria "in a personal capacity".

100 000 killed

A third senior TTP cadre said those who went were mostly Arabs, Uzbeks and Chechens.

More than 100 000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad erupted, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Ismail, an Arab fighter from al-Qaeda, told AFP in northwest Pakistan that he planned to join the fight against Assad.

"I am going to Syria in the next few days, my family will stay here," he said.

"Our mujahideen are going not only to Syria but also to Lebanon, Egypt and other Arab countries."

  • Joy Moloi - 2013-07-16 16:07

    Your loss Taliban! You are missing out on American money and American weapons.

      JoApe - 2013-07-16 16:25

      Yeah, they're about to hand them out to any Islamist that wants one.

      Hosni Mubar - 2013-07-16 18:47

      Strange perspective. The US is going to give the Taliban weapons when they are in a war with the Taliban.

      Joy Moloi - 2013-07-16 20:29

      The US is in war with Al Qaeda and they are funding Al Qaeda is Syria, why wouldn't they arm the Taliban ? McCain even took a beautiful picture with a wanted Al Qaeda terrorist, did you see how beautiful that picture is ?

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