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FSA buying weapons from pro-regime militia– Senior FSA officer | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Questions continue to be asked regarding where the anti-regime Free Syrian Army [FSA] – made up predominately of Syrian army defectors –is obtaining its weapons and arms from. A senior FSA commander, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, described the FSA’s financial capability as being “weak”, and revealed that the FSA obtains most of its funds from “ordinary Syrian citizens.” He stressed “if the FSA had greater capabilities the situation on the ground would be very different, and we would have overthrown the regime by now.”

The FSA commander also revealed that FSA soldiers are only equipped with light weaponry, such as RPG’s [rocket propelled grenades] and AK-47s. He told Asharq Al-Awsat “we obtain these weapons from a number of sources, and this includes defectors who bring weapons with them, as well as from successful attacks [on the Syrian army], whilst we also purchase a large proportion of our arms from the pro-regime Shabiha militia.” The FSA officer also claimed that the anti-regime organization also obtains arms and weaponry from Alawite Syrian army officers who are sympathetic to the revolution but too afraid to come out publicly and endorse the uprising against the rule of Alawite Bashar al-Assad.

The senior FSA officer revealed that many pro-regime Shabiha militia elements sell their weapons on the black market. He said “they are using the current situation to their advantage, selling their weapons at very high prices. For example, one RPG costs 500 dollars, whilst an AK-47 costs 1,000 dollars.”

The FSA senior officer, who refused to reveal his name for fear of retaliation, also stressed that the DSA receives the majority of its funds from ordinary Syrian citizens, rather than wealthy Syrian expatriates.

Asked about reports that hundreds of Syrian army defectors have sought refuge in northern Lebanon, the FSA source stressed that this was an exaggeration. He told Asharq Al-Awsat “the situation in Lebanon is very sensitive, there are a limited number of these elements who fled to northern Lebanon, but they are not carrying out any military operations because they are facing great pressure that is preventing them from taking any such action.”

Although he FSA officer did not deny that the majority of Syrian army defectors belong to the Sunni sect, he stressed that this did not mean that the FSA was a purely Sunni organization, and revealed that a number of FSA soldiers and elements are Druze. He also claimed that some Alawite Syrian officers will soon announce their defection from the Syrian army.

The FSA senior officer also said that the FSA will become stronger, at the expense of the Syrian army, as “we will soon open the door to volunteers, particularly as there are many Syrian families that have refrained from sending their sons to the Syrian army for military service during the current stage and are instead asking us to allow them to join the FSA.”

He also stressed that “we continue to work to reach a free and democratic civil Syria; this is why we refused, and continue to refuse, to work with a number of organizations whose members have said they are prepared for jihad in Syria.”

As for the issue of Turkish aid to the FSA, the senior FSA officer told Asharq Al-Awsat “Turkey’s position, until now, remains unclear, and this is something that will negatively impact on the Syrian revolution in general and the FSA in particular.”

He added “at a previous phase, we resorted to opening a bank account [in Turkey] to receive financial aid, but we were surprised when [Turkey] closed this after only a few days and prevented us from receiving financial support in this way.”

The FSA senior officer also told Asharq Al-Awsat that he believes that the Syrian National Council [SNC] operations are weak and its vision for the future unclear. He said “the SNC lacks a clear strategy, its position is weak, and it has not lived up to the responsibility that has been placed in it…this is having a negative impact on the Syrian street and the revolutionary youth who have begun to lose patience with the SNC.”