Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Free Syrian Army yet to receive funding | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- commander of the Free Syrian Army [FSA], Colonel Riyad al-Asaad, has confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Adnan Salu, retired general and former chief of staff of the chemical warfare administration, is in Turkey and has joined the FSA, becoming the first Syrian general that joins the ranks of the FSA.

General Salu arrived with eight other officers – a brigadier general, two colonels, two lieutenant colonels, and three majors.

“This is not the first time that officers have defected.” Al-Asaad told Asharq Al-Awsat. “Lately, the rate of defections has risen dramatically. Between 20 t0 30 officers are arriving in Turkey daily”. Al-Asaad ascribes the rising rate of defections to the collapsing morale of the regime’s elements, particularly since the FSA is focusing its attacks on military checkpoints in retaliation for the shelling of towns and civilian killings. Al-Asaad told Asharq Al-Awsat that, “In view of the focused attacks and seizure of checkpoints, the regime has begun to retreat. Its elements are afraid to confront; if they do, they do it fearfully. This gives our elements a high morale boost”.

A senior FSA officer also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that General Salu and the majority of officers that defected were in contact with the FSA, which facilitated their escape. He added that Salu worked with the FSA while he was in Syria despite that fact that contact with the officers prior to their defection is not easy. Al-Asaad went on to say that, “a number of officers from the 4th Division in the regular army are staying in their homes and refusing to carry out the orders given to them”.

In other news, Al-Asaad said that the FSA has definitive information and evidence that confirm that elements from Hezbollah and Iran are fighting alongside the regime in trying to suppress the Syrian revolution. Moreover, Russian “commandos” are manning modern Russian-made fighter planes that Russia gave to the Syrian regime. He also said that there are no FSA elements in Lebanon and therefore are not participating in any incidents taking place there. “The Syrians in Lebanon are refugees; they are not carrying out any operations or participating in any battles.” Al-Asaad said.

Regarding the funding of the FSA, Al-Asaad affirmed that, “Reports that the national council is giving salaries to the members of the FSA are no more than mere promises that have not yet been kept. The same applies to arming the FSA whose arms are limited to light and medium machineguns (14.5 and 23 caliber) that we seized from various barracks”.