Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Free Syrian Army Ready for the battle for Damascus | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Antakya, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Free Syrian Army [FSA] morale has never been higher, for despite the difficult circumstances that its members are facing at home and abroad, the group’s military achievements over the last week have lifted its spirits to the point that many are predicting that victory is just around the corner.

The FSA camp is located on the Turkish side of the border, and is currently in a state of high alert as everybody monitors the reports of the battle staking place in Syria between the regime’s forces and the FSA. The FSA officers are unconcerned with the harsh winter conditions that surround them, where the temperate falls below zero at night, as all their focus is on overthrowing the al-Assad regime.

“We do not care about the lack of resources and food, or the bad weather…the only thing we want is arms” adding “arms it the only way out of this crisis and the only means of victory against this criminal regime that is killing its own people every day.” An FSA soldier stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat.

“There is no solution [to the Syrian crisis] other than combat…we have seen the Arab and western initiatives collapse one by one; the solution is in our own hands, and we will achieve this soon.” The FSA soldier added.

FSA Commander Riad al-Asaad is cautious by nature, and he is devoted to the daily meetings and operations of the FSA. He revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that, “the divisions [within the Syrian military apparatus] are great and growing every day…if we only had air support we would be in a very different position.”

The FSA camp in Turkey currently houses around approximately 300 Syrian army defectors, the majority being officers, as there has been a widespread exodus of FSA soldiers returning to Syria to continue the fight against the al-Assad regime. The majority of FSA soldiers and officers in Turkey have already returned to the Syrian interior, whilst others are preparing to join them.

FSA spokesman, Colonel Ammar al-Wawi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “divisions are rife within the regime, and the FSA reached the outskirts of the presidential palace [in Damascus], but we refrained from attacking it for fear of risking civilian lives.”

He added “we will intensify our operations over the forthcoming days; with the Damascus campaign ending with the seizure of the [presidential] palace…we will overthrow the regime without foreign intervention.”

As for the FSA’s overall operations within Syria, Colonel al-Wawi said “we are in control of areas in every Syrian region, and at the end we will ultimately impose a buffer zone ourselves” adding “as the [al-Assad] regime becomes weaker we become stronger.”

The FSA spokesman also asserted that the forthcoming days will see Syrian rebel activity focusing on Damascus. Colonel al-Wawi stressed that the FSA is “prepared for the final battle”, adding that the majority of FSA officers and soldiers are already in the field.

Colonel al-Wawi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we will soon see Bashar al-Assad fleeing the country for Qom or Moscow, for there is no place for him now in Syria.”

Asked whether he wanted to send a message to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, one of the al-Assad regime’s staunchest supporters, the FSA spokesman called on Nasrallah to “stop the killing of the Syrian people who previously embraced the Lebanese people during the 2006 war…opening their homes to them.” He also said that Nasrallah would be held accountable for his actions “in the revolutionary courts following the victory of the [Syrian] revolution”.

However it appears that there are also divisions amongst the Syrian opposition, as FSA spokesman Colonel Ammar al-Wawi expressed his “disappointment” in the Syrian National Council [SNC], adding that the SNC includes “capitalists and landlords” who want to ride the wave of the revolution at the expense of the Syrian people. He said “whenever the SNC feels its popularity waning it comes to the FSA to take souvenir photographs to show the public that it is support the FSA” adding “the SNC claims to have set-up a liaison office to support the FSA…but this is not true, and we have not received any financial aid from the SNC until now.”

Colonel al-Wawi called on the SNC to “reconsider its policy on membership”, accusing members of the SNC Executive committee of “being unable to keep a secret, revealing all their information to global intelligence agencies, including the Syrian intelligence services.”

Colonel a-Wawi also stressed that the FSA had not received any financial or military support from Turkey, although he went on to thank Ankara for receiving the Syrian refugees, FSA, and opposition. He expressed his regret that Ankara had failed to expel the Syrian ambassador to Turkey, and formally recognized the SNC as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. He also called on Turkey to provide military support and assistance to the FSA, confirming that Turkey “has not aided us by firing a single bullet.”