DAMASCUS, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. potential military action against Syria could largely strengthen the radical extremist rebels on ground, who have been craving for the strike to get the chance to storm the heavily-fortified capital, analysts said.
The Syrian administration is currently in the limelight as Washington is garnering support for its planned military action on Syria. The threats of strike followed the rebels' allegations that the Syrian government unleashed nerve gas attacks in the countryside of Damascus in August.
The Damascus government strongly denied the accusations, saying they were meant to draw in military intervention in Syria -- something the rebels had been craving for.
THREATS FROM RADICAL FIGHTERS
The rebels, including the powerful al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have reportedly been lurking and massing up in the surrounding of Damascus in the hope of storming it simultaneously with U.S. possible strike.
Local analysts said that one of the main reasons behind the U.S. strike is weakening the Syrian army and strengthening the rebels.
Furthermore, Damascus' residents have recently voiced fears not because of the U.S. potential strike, but from the Nusra fighters who are believed to will try to exploit the strike to achieve their long-awaited dream to push their way in Damascus.
The Lebanese al-Manar news website, the mouthpiece of Hezbollah militant group, cited recently what it called "sources from the Syrian opposition" as confirming that the rebels and their leadership are building hopes on the planned strike to unleash a big battle in Damascus to coincide with the U.S. strike in the hope of bringing down the capital, and thus the administration of President Bashar al-Assad.
According to the report, the sources noted that the rebels had beefed up presence and brought in large numbers of fighters to the al-Qalamoun area in the northern countryside of Damascus, waiting for the American Tomahawks to pave the way for them to Damascus.
The rebels are hoping for intense and powerful strikes by the U. S. against the positions of the Syrian army and its defense systems at the entrances of the capital, on the top of the Qasioun Mountain inside Damascus and also on the road between the southern province of Daraa and Damascus, particularly against the airbases of Khalkhaleh and Tha'la, which could create inroads for them toward the capital, the report said.
The same source told al-Manar that the Syrian army could resort to the heavy shelling against the surrounding of Damascus to freeze the movement of the rebels and prevent them from coordinating the attack against the capital.
JIHADISTS MADE UP MAJORITY OF REBELS
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently said that jihadists made up between 15 percent and 20 percent of certain groups, but his estimates didn't resonate with some republicans, such as Republican Michael McCaul, who challenged Kerry during the last hearing Wednesday about the reality of the rebels.
"Who are the rebel forces? Who are they? I ask that in my briefings all the time... and every time I get briefed on this it gets worse and worse, because the majority now of these rebel forces -- and I say majority now -- are radical Islamists pouring in from all over the world," McCaul reportedly said.
In late July, the deputy director of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, David Shedd, estimated that the number of the rebels groups is 1,200, noting that extremists such as the al- Qaida-linked Nusra front were situated to expand their influence.
"Left unchecked, I'm very concerned that the most radical elements will take over larger segments" of the opposition groups, Shedd reportedly said at a security conference in Colorado, adding that a prolonged stalemate could leave open parts of Syria to potential control by radical fighters.