It’s hard to keep count how many mosques the Assad regime has destroyed and desecrated. But Wednesday, an extremist battalion of the armed opposition has gone on a rampage in the Shi`a Husayniyya Mosque in the Zarzour neighbourhood of Jisr al-Shughour, Idlib. The following footage was published by the [activists of] the Idlib News Network with the text “Burning the Husayniyya of the Shia Shabbiha by the heroes of the Free Syrian Army:”
In the video can be seen how a battalion who identifies itself by the name [of the Companion] `Amr bin Ma`ad Yakrib al-Zubaydi is burning and destroying the mosque. Far from being a liberation, it’s one big celebration of savagery in the name of Islam. The activists who have uploaded this video support the crime and ascribe it [and the battalion] to the FSA. After blowing up the Mosque in Azaaz and blowing up the shrine of Shaykh Muhammad Jarabeh in Aleppo, this is yet another escalation on the part of the opposition in crimes being committed against religion. However, unlike the first two this last one was not committed by Jabhat al-Nusra or other Qaedists and extremist groups operating outside of the FSA, but by what seems to be one of its own battalions. Something else to be noticed is that this has taken place in Idlib province, which has seen perhaps the highest increase in extremism and sectarianism in the country.
In the town of Binnish, for example, there has been some popular support for Jabhat al-Nusra and where this group has been the open about its ideology. What we see here may very well be the spreading of at least the sectarian aspect of this ideology to some of the battalions as a result of Qaedist integration in Idlib’s society. It is the result of ignoring a very real and potentially disastrous problem that has been growing for months in the devastated parts of society, and no matter the excuses in the end it is the revolution itself – from the political opposition, to the activists, to the the armed opposition – that has thus fair failed to significantly confront this problem, let alone solve it. In the meantime, the disease has been set loose, only growing and responses to it have become increasingly apologetic, while nothing suggests that this trend will be turned in the near future.
[UPDATE: Brown Moses]
If this is indeed the same brigade, which appears to be so, then it ascribes itself to the FSA and is likely to be recognized as such. This particular Islamic flag alongside the Syrian one shouldn’t imply that it associates itself with the “Islamic State of Iraq” or for that matter al-Shabab or other similar groups around the world who use it. Such groups do not use national flags, while everyone else in Syria could use various Islamic flags alongside the national one. This particular battalion does also not present itself in an a-typical way for battalions of the FSA, while that is completely different for any of the Qaedist groups in Syria or elsewhere. It’s more likely that this battalion has adopted such a sectarian ideology from other local groups and this is a development to be feared for a number of similar battalions. It is not flags that suggest this, their relevance has been overrated and reports about them have given a wrong yet easily swallowed impression.
Brown Moses believes this to be the mosque in question: http://wikimapia.org/#lat=35.9539197