Beirut, New York and London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Maj. Gen. Salim Idris, announced on Wednesday that he did not accept the decision to remove him from his post and replace him with Brig. Gen. Abdel-Ilah Al-Bashir.
Idris said Monday’s decision by the FSA’s Supreme Military Council was “impulsive, personal and legally void,” and called in a video recording “for a restructuring of the chiefs of staff” and for “all revolutionary and military forces to join the new structure.”
A group of FSA field commanders have announced that they support Idris and consider his dismissal as “not representative of the views on the ground.” They said they would “continue to fight the regime and its men as one group under the leadership of Salim Idris.”
A former official in the FSA’s chiefs of staff was quoted as saying that many commanders on the ground saw the dismissal of Idris as a “coup” and accused Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmed Al-Jarba of being behind the decision.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council held a meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss a draft resolution on the humanitarian situation inside Syria, but differences still existed between the West and the Russians over a number of issues.
Diplomats said the talks were not going smoothly, especially regarding the imposition of sanctions on those who hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid. Russian representatives said that Moscow was opposed to imposing any punitive measures on Syria, while Western officials said the resolution must include a binding element that has weight.
Russian news agency Interfax quoted Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday as saying the UN decision to allow humanitarian aid into Syria could be agreed within days if Security Council members did not “politicize” the issue.
Russia has used its Security Council veto three times since the start of the Syrian conflict to prevent the adoption of resolutions aimed at putting pressure on the Syrian regime.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his conviction that peace talks in Geneva were the ideal way to solve the Syrian conflict and urged all parties to return to the negotiating table, according to spokesman Martin Nesirsky.
Reports say that US policy is reaching a crossroads with the failure of Geneva II and Russia’s reluctance to pressure its ally, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, to leave power, or its inability to do so.
US officials said the White House would take a second look at its options in Syria, a process that could take weeks.
A White House official speaking on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat that the consideration of other options was “an ongoing process” and that making a decision would take “weeks.”
On the Security Council efforts for a resolution on the Syrian humanitarian issue, the official said: “We need a strong resolution, and the term ‘strong’ does not necessarily mean threatening sanctions or the use of force, but means a strong resolution from the point of view of forcing the Syrian government to make commitments to improve delivery of humanitarian aid.”