Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Several Free Syrian Army [FSA] commanders met in secret last Sunday inside Syria with the objective of establishing a unified military command in order to meet one of the international pre-conditions for arming the Syrian rebels. According to senior sources, the participants of this meeting sought to ensure that it remained secret in order to prevent it, and its objective of uniting the opposition ranks, of being “aborted”.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, FSA Military Council chairman, Brigadier General Mustafa al-Sheikh, confirmed that “consultations are taking place between FSA commanders to unite the ranks” adding “these efforts are still at the beginning of the road.”
Whilst FSA deputy commander Colonel Malik al-Kurdi informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “nothing has been finalized so far” adding “we are seeking to create a unified command for the FSA and one can say: we are in the process of accomplishing this.”
The two FSA commanders revealed that this meeting took place on Sunday but refused to divulge which FSA leadership figures attended, underlining the need for secrecy and refusing to divulge any more details.
Syrian National Council [SNC] member, Adil Al-Shishakli, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the FSA’s move to unite their ranks coincides with increased opposition activity along the Syrian –Turkish border. He revealed that domestic Syrian political activists are meeting with their foreign counterparts on a daily basis, adding that great strides are being made to reconcile Syrian activists at home and abroad together.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat “the Syrian activists at home had strongly rebuked the so-called shortcomings of the Syrian activists abroad, and we are seeking to put an end to this by reaching an agreement on a practical plan to send support to occupied villages and activists, wherever they are in Syria.”
For his part, an Executive Council member of the Syrian National Coordination Committee, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, denied that any new efforts are taking place to bring the views of the opposition leaders at home and abroad together. He said “the last effective efforts in this regard took place during the Cairo conference which decided to form a follow-up committee; however this committee was not formed due to the opposition of some within the SNC. As for the other opportunity in this framework, that occurred during the National Salvation conference in Damascus, which did not conclude anything definitive.”
The National Coordination Committee member added “we can confirm that several parties have no serious intentions at present to unite the ranks of the Syrian opposition at home and abroad.”