In an interview with NPR, aides to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad expressed joy and enthusiasm for incoming US President Trump.
“We are happy that Clinton did not win. This is for sure. She’s the one who considered all these terrorist, Islamist, jihadist groups as moderate rebels,” a Syrian parliamentarian told NPR.
The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad classifies all who oppose them as terrorists; however, the conflict began with pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring.
There remains moderate, pro-democratic forces fighting Assad’s forces in Aleppo and elsewhere in Western Syria, many of whom the US backs via train and equip missions. However, the regime places treats these forces, some of which support democracy and secularism, in the same category as ISIS or al-Qaeda affiliates.
When the Syrian regime and their Russian backers talk about eliminating “terrorists” in Syria, they almost exclusively mean the rebel groups. Almost all of the offensives on ISIS have been carried out by Kurds, or a US-led coalition.
But Donald Trump has echoed the regime’s claims saying, during a debate with Hillary Clinton in October, “I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS.”
At one point, Trump even went as far as to say he wished the US and Russia could fight the terrorists together.
The map below shows Russia isn’t really interested in fighting ISIS, and that it is only interested in propping up the Assad regime.
“They have spent almost all their time trying to eliminate the moderate opposition because they want to boil it down to a choice between the extremists and Assad,” Robert Ford, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute who was the US ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014, said of Assad’s regime targeting rebels to Business Insider in October.
The rebels, for their part, seem disheartened by the election results. Syria and Russia have been linked, by numerous and credible sources, to heinous war crimes in Syria having bombed schools, hospitals, civilian areas — nothing is safe.
In fact, the few remaining doctors in Syria’s Aleppo have had to hide underground from the constant Russian and Syrian air raids. Syrian and Russian planes, however, have found a way to circumvent this by using bunker-busting bombs to destroy the hospitals anyway.
Defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton proposed taking measures to protect civilians in Syria, igniting hope in the rebels.
“The opposition was really looking forward to Secretary Clinton coming forward and implementing some kind of civilian protection … Now that hope has been completely devastated,” a Syrian-American activist with knowledge of the rebels told NPR.
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