Retired U.S. General Who Visited Syria on Day of Sarin Attack: ‘Obama Needs to Back the FSA Fighters in Syria’

Free Syrian Army Col. Riad El-Asaad with Retired Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, chairman of Stand Up America, a national security and analysis group that has been working on the Syrian crisis since the start of the civil war more than two years ago.

Only days after the deadly chemical attacks in Syria took place, U.S. Army retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely rode into the besieged city of Aleppo with heavily armed rebels. He listened to their pleas for support and concluded that the U.S. “has a national security obligation” to keep Syria from being controlled by Assad or Islamic extremists.

Vallely, who arrived at the Syrian border the day of the chemical attacks, is one of only a handful of Americans who have entered the country since the start of the civil war.

When Vallely’s vehicle pulled up to the Kilas checkpoint on the Turkish-Syria border Aug. 20, they were told by armed Turkish border guards that a large-scale chemical attack had taken place in an area near Damascus and they would not be allowed to cross.

“It was horrific,” Vallely told TheBlaze (see video below). “We were getting updates from the (Free Syrian Army) fighters that (President Bashar Al) Assad had gassed his own people with Sarin. The U.S. needs to back the FSA fighters. Only a monster could do such a thing.”

Exclusive Video from TheBlaze TV’s For The Record

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A day after the attack — at a different Turkish border crossing — Vallely was met by 40 members of the Free Syrian Army who guided him cross the border. By the time the armed convoy made its way into the city of Aleppo, more than 400 armed FSA fighters were with them.

The retired general is now the chairman of Stand Up America,  a national security research and analysis organization, that has developed a special team of analysts to focus on the Syrian crisis.

“The FSA fighters aren’t radical Islamists, they are secularists that believe in a secular society made up of different religious groups and a democratic government that’s free to pursue economic development and education for the people of Syria,” said Vallely. “They do not want Sha’ria law. We need to support them and help them eliminate Assad.”

Members of the FSA, who are under the ground command of Col. Riad El Asaad, told Vallely that reports from the West comparing them to Islamic extremists are completely false. Riad said he would  fight Al-Qaeda factions that have penetrated Syria, just as easily as his men are fighting Assad’s forces.

They said the failure of the West to aid them has instead given extremist groups a foothold in the country. The money, weapons and logistical supplies that are being funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia are landing in the hands of Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood fighters who are now in Syria, Vallely said.

Vallely believes the U.S. should support the FSA fighters under Riad and help them eliminate the Assad regime.  It is one of the only ways to ensure that both Assad, including its ally Iran and the Islamic extremists will not gain control of Syria, he said.

Riad, who was one of the first senior officers to defect from the Assad regime, lost his right leg above the knee when his vehicle was hit by a car bomb believed to be ordered by Assad’s forces earlier this year.

FSA fighters told Vallely, that logistics and support promised by the Obama administration and Europe has not come through and it has left them struggling to keep Assad’s well-equipped forces at bay.

They said  that even the humanitarian supplies promised to the people of Syria are not getting to them.

The Syrian regime is continuing its air bombardment of Aleppo and they continue to bomb the areas around Damascus where they used Sarin gas was used in an effort to cleanse the area of evidence, rebel fighter and citizens in the area have said.

Dr. Abo, a physician who tended to the dead and sick the night of the bombing, told TheBlaze a week after the attack that the Syrian regime was continuing to bomb the neighborhoods they had attacked with Sarin. During the Skype conversation with Dr. Abo, who goes by only his first name to protect his identity, the booming sounds of bombs and rattling of gunfire could be heard in the background.

An FSA officer told TheBlaze that they are secularists, not Islamists and “want to fight al-Assad and al-Qaeda together, but with the help of America.”

The FSA fighter said that  Al Qaeda fighters in the region “want to kill me” because we represent a secular trend.

Front page image of Syrian victims who allegedly suffered a chemical attack in March (AP Photo/SANA, File).

 

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