Rebels fighting in southern Syria will not cooperate militarily with al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, a spokesman said on Wednesday. Essam al-Rayes' comments come after tensions between local rebel groups and al-Nusra over the capture of a border crossing between Syria and Jordan. "We reject all forms of cooperation with al-Nusra Front because keeping silent on its excesses, its statements and its violations will only allow them to continue," Rayes told AFP.
Speaking via Skype, he said the groups fighting under the Southern Front banner hoped their position would "tell Syrians that Al-Nusra's ties with al-Qaida push the revolution away from its path and objectives." "We do not want Syria to become a base for jihad, or the expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)," he added, although the two groups cooperate in Yarmouk.
A week ago the armed factions under the name of the Southern Front, which introduces itself as a branch of the internationally recognized and Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), issued a statement, saying that "We refuse or reject any cooperation or rapprochement with the Nusra Front on a military level as well as on the level of political thought, or with any Takfiri thoughts adopted by groups within the Syrian revolution. We consider that the Southern Front factions are the only military component representative of the Syrian people in the south."
Moderate factions claim that their purpose is to establish a democratic regime in Syria in the case that the current regime of President Bashar Assad is deposed. In contrast, the al-Nusra Front aims to adopt the strict Salafi version of religious jurisprudence as the group has already established its own courts and administrations that rule the captured towns with a religious law with which Syrians are not familiar.