Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Free Syrian Army acknowledge internal divisions - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Free Syrian Army [FSA] Commander Riad al-Asaad has called on the international community “to shoulder its responsibilities toward the Syrian people”, whilst called on the friends of the Syrian people to “provide arms to the FSA to enable it to undertake its duty of defending the unarmed [Syrian] people.” Al-Asaad also announced “the establishment of military sectors in all Syrian governorates which will be capable of controlling the ground after the regime is toppled or suddenly collapses, in order to avoid the emergence of armed groups that could be used as a tool to spread chaos.” The FSA commander informed the international community that “we will lose our patience if the international community’s negligence continues in this regard.”

For his part, Brigadier General Mustafa al-Sheikh, chairman of the FSA’s Higher Military Council, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that there are disagreements and difference of opinions between Al-Asaad and himself regarding the parameters for military action in Syria, underlining the importance of “avoiding individualism and turning to joint action.”

In a speech before FSA members yesterday, Al-Asaad said “more than a year has passed since the start of our revolution, and you have become more determined to obtain your freedom which the corrupt regime has stolen from you over the decades. You are offering all that is precious and valuable and sacrificing your blood, lives, and sons for the sake of bringing down this tyrannical regime; so that you and your children can enjoy a life of dignity. This regime has increased its savagery and iniquity against our unarmed people, killing, displacing, destroying, humiliating, burning, and fabricating…the entire world serves as a witness to its crimes.”

He added: “Brothers, we in the FSA accepted the initiative of the joint United Nations and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, and we asserted this immediately after this initiative was announced until today, for the sake of putting an end to the bloodshed and proving to the world that we are only seeking our rights and that it is the regime and its criminal gangs that are committing the killings and atrocities against the Syrian people. The Syrian regime failed to abide by any of the initiative’s clauses; it did not stop the killings or the bombardment with its heavy weapons and rockets, even in the presence of the monitors. It did not withdraw its military vehicles and soldiers from the villages and towns but rather redeployed them in some areas. It did not release any of the detainees but in fact continued to arrest Syrian citizens; it did not allow peaceful demonstrations to take place, and its armed gangs have continued to open fire on demonstrations, killing and injuring hundreds. It did not allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to our people who have been under siege for more than a year, nor did it envision any initiative for a peaceful solution other than submission and accusing the opposition of treason.”

Al-Asaad went on to assert that “the FSA is convinced that the regime will not implement any of the clauses of Kofi Annan’s initiative and will continue to prevaricate, however despite this we will continue to abide by its clauses until the truth about this regime is uncovered and it is exposed before the international community.” He added: “In view of these facts, we demand that the international community shoulder its responsibilities, and we are informing it that we will lose our patience if the international community’s negligence continues in this regard.” He also called on the friends of the Syrian people to “provide arms to the FSA to enable it to undertake its duty of defending the unarmed [Syrian] people.”

Addressing FSA elements, Commander al-Asaad said “Brothers, in view of the weakening of the regime, the inevitability of its downfall, and the possibility of its sudden collapse and in view of the huge increase in the FSA elements and to avoid the emergence of armed groups that could be used as a tool to spread chaos…particularly after the regime’s downfall and the post-revolution stage.”

He revealed “following consultation with FSA officers and field commanders regarding the need to organize our forces on the ground in order to improve their performance, we have decided the following: Firstly, to establish military sectors which will be under the command of FSA officers. The boundaries of these military sectors are as follows. The southern sector, made-up of the governorates of Deraa, Al-Suwayda, and Al-Qunaytirah with Deraa as its base; the Damascus Sector, made-up of Damascus and the surrounding area with Damascus as its base; the Homs sector, made-up of Homs Governorate; the Hama sector made-up of Hama; the Idlib sector made-up of Idlib Governorate; the eastern sector made-up of the governorates of Al-Riqqah, Dair al-Zour, and Al-Hasakah with Dair al-Zur as its base; and the coastal sector made-up of the governorates of Latakia and Tartus with Latakia as its base.”

Al-Asaad added: “Secondly, the organizational instructions for these sectors’ operations will be issued in a subsequent decision. Thirdly, these sectors come directly under the control of the FSA. Fourthly, all the revolutionary activists and supporters of the revolution are called upon to establish local administrative bodies at the administrative units’ level.” The FSA commander concluded his speech by asserting that “victory will be achieved.”

On the other hand, Brigadier General Mustafa al-Sheikh, chairman of the FSA’s Higher Military Council, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “there are disagreements and difference of opinions between Riad al-Asaad and myself, particularly over the announcement of the establishment of the military sectors.”

He added: “We had established military councils four months ago that had a command structure, namely, the FSA’s Higher Military Council, which sets out the parameters for military action and enables us to have a national army in the full sense of the word.”

He pointed out that “between 70 and 75 percent of the military councils are now under the Higher Military Council which includes Christians, Alawites, and Druze. The Higher Military Council is coordinating fully with the revolutionary forces so as to engender military-civilian cooperation to help transfer Syria to a civilian state [following the revolution]. We would then return to our barracks without having any political ambitions, however unfortunately, the support that was given to this council has been stolen.”

Al-Sheikh asserted that “the disagreement (with Al-Asaad) is over the organizational mechanism” adding “Individualism should be avoided and organized action should be undertaken. As the FSA, we should be far removed from politics and politicization.”

In reply to a question about whether the Military Council’s action is subject to the authority of the Syrian National Council [SNC] or another organization, al-Sheikh told Asharq Al-Awsat that “there is coordination between the SNC and ourselves but it has not reached the required level. We, as the military, cannot leave the stage for the regular army to kill our people and at the same time we fear the chaos that could take place following a revolution because Syria belongs to all, not to any single group or individual.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

More Posts

Follow Me:
FacebookGoogle PlusYouTube