Tony Blair-Run Think-Tank: 65,000 Jihadists in Syria Ready to Replace ISIL If It’s Defeated


The West is making a strategic mistake by focusing its anti-terrorist effort on ISIL and overlooking other groups, an upcoming report said. Sixty percent of fighters in the country can be classified as extremists and have goals similar to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Those fighters belong to at least 15 other militant groups, which are mostly being ignored by the West, British media cited the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics, a think-tank run by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, as saying, RT reported.

Fewer than one quarter of the groups surveyed by the center had no ideological agenda, but many of them were willing to fight alongside the Islamists and accept their leadership in a post-war Syria.

“The West risks making a strategic failure by focusing only on ISIL. Defeating it militarily will not end global jihadism. We cannot bomb an ideology, but our war is ideological,” said the report, due to be published Monday, as cited by the Guardian.

The report comes days after the UN Security Council passed a roadmap to a political transition in Syria. The resolution adopted on Friday lists only two militant groups in Syria, ISIL and the Al Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda branch, as banned from negotiating the future of the country under UN aegis.

The report warned that if ISIL is defeated, it may give impetus for terrorist attacks outside of Syria under a rallying cry that “the West destroyed the caliphate.”

It says that if the government of President Bashar Assad stepped down, as many foreign players and rebel groups have been demanding for years, it would likely fuel the war in Syria rather than quench it.

The conclusions of the report are not unlike those voiced by Russia. Moscow has been repeatedly calling on the opponents of Damascus to provide a clear list of militant groups that they consider “moderate” and rejected the calls for Assad’s departure before peace can be restored in Syria.