Ex-Hostage: Syria Rebels Are 'Bandits,' Fanatics
After 5 months captive, says US strike would only make them stronger
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2013 9:49 AM CDT
Italian journalist Domenico Quirico arrives home to Italy.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

(Newser) – An Italian war reporter held hostage for five months by rebel forces in Syria has written a damning denunciation of the anti-Assad movement. "It is not the revolution that I encountered two years ago in Aleppo—secular, tolerant. It has become something else," Domenico Quirico wrote in his newspaper La Stampa, per the New York Times. "Our captors were from a group that professed itself to be Islamist but that in reality is made up of mixed-up young men who have joined the revolution because the revolution now belongs to these groups that are midway between banditry and fanaticism," he wrote, per the BBC. "They follow whoever promises them a future, gives them weapons, gives them money to buy cell phones, computers, clothes."

More controversially, Quirico's fellow captive, Belgian academic Pierre Piccinin, has accused the rebels—of whom he says he was previously a "fierce supporter"—of framing Bashar al-Assad with last month's chemical weapons attacks, after overhearing their captors say as much on a Skype conversation with other rebels. But Quirico is less certain. "We heard some people we didn’t know talking through a half-closed door," he says, per the Times. "It’s impossible to know whether what was said was based on real fact or just hearsay." Nevertheless, he says, he does not support a US military strike against Syria, which he says would only strengthen extremist forces, reports ANSA. "Our captors were happy at the idea of an American bombardment," he says.

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Sep 11, 2013 7:53 PM CDT
We have this story, and very soon we will have the UN weapons inspectors report which will confirm that the chemical profile doesn't not match what is in Syria's arsenal. Reason #1 for Assad to admit he has chemical weapons is that he knows the Saudis are sending in nerve gas.
Sep 11, 2013 7:08 PM CDT
But, but, but John McCain said that Syrians were all "moderate" in his last townhall radio broadcast. What a dumbass. Of course they aren't moderate - if they're willing to take help from whoever can buy their alliance with food, clothes, money, weapons...don't sound like moderates to me.
Sep 11, 2013 6:27 PM CDT
While channel surfing last night, CNN had a Syrian rebel on, and it seemed his expectations were that the U.S. should use its resources to take Assad out for them. I don't know if we've given them a reason to have this expectation, but it was very off putting. Do they think U.S. taxpayers are some kind of Dial-A-War Fairy Godmother?