Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

FSA establishes new “regular” brigades, prepares for post-Assad period | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – There is conflicting information regarding the military plans being drawn up by the Free Syrian Army [FSA] in preparation for what has been called the “decisive” battle for Damascus. Syrian opposition figures yesterday announced the “formation of a special military brigade in Damascus and the surrounding area made up of FSA cadres in preparation for the ‘decisive battle’ to liberate Damascus.” This brigade is the first of its kind to be formed in the Rif Dimashq governorate, and is made up of several opposition military units; it also includes a counter-intelligence unit to detect any attempts by al-Assad loyalists to infiltrate the FSA.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, FSA Brigadier General Fayez al-Amro revealed that “serious work is being undertaken to form regular military brigades under a unified leadership which will manage the military operations on the ground in an accurate and well-studied manner.”

He added “we are working hard to form three military brigades whose officers and members will be chosen from the best [opposition] fighting forces, and we have called on the opposing Syrian National Council [SNC] and Syrian National Coalition to grant us the necessary support in this regard.”

Brigadier General Fayez al-Amro stressed that these new brigades will operate across Syria, with one brigade operating in southern Syria, including Damascus and the surrounding area, as well as Deraa. The second brigade will be based in central Syria and its operations will include Homs, Hama and Aleppo, whilst the third brigade will be based in the north. He said “these brigades will be the only solution to return security and stability to all corners of the country following the collapse of the Bashar al-Assad regime, because we cannot gamble on civilian fighters for a long period of time because the civilians had no choice but to take up arms to defend themselves and they will want to return to their normal lives.”

The FSA Brigadier General also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the battle for Damascus will be the final and decisive battle, but it will be planned very carefully and we do not underestimate the regime forces strength in the capital. It is true that the Syrian army has begun to lose self-confidence and morale, but the regime still has a number of powerful cards in its hands that it could surprise us with in Damascus, as this is its last stronghold.”

He added “these military bodies will be formed very soon, we know that the regime enjoys international support, however as soon as the secret word is given lifting this international cover [for the al-Assad regime], Bashar al-Assad will be on the next plane fleeing Syria.”

The FSA commander also called on the new broad-based Syrian National Coalition to “succeed in softening the international position, at least in terms of supplying weapons capable of confronting the al-Assad regime air force to the Syrian opposition fighters.”

For his part, FSA coordinator, Louay Miqdad, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the battle for Damascus will be too great to be handled by the military brigades alone, regardless of their numbers and capabilities.” He stressed that “we are fighting in Damascus as brigades under the unified Supreme Military Council [of the FSA], in the same manner that we are fighting in Dariyah, Harasta, Barzeh, Ghouta and elsewhere.”

He also confirmed that “the FSA leadership has begun preparations…to open all fronts at the same time in all [Syrian] cities, in preparation for the liberation of Damascus.” Miqdad added “the battle for Damascus requires drawing up plans involving all fronts, as well as cutting the regime’s supply routes and communication with its forces. This primarily requires an end to the battle over airports and cutting off the aerial bridge between Tehran and the al-Assad regime…in addition to securing logistical support and supply routes in the countryside as well as the acquisition of the necessary quantity of forces, arms and ammunition to fight a battle over a long period of time.”

FSA coordinator Louay Miqdad also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “ongoing meetings are being held between the FSA leadership and brigades operating on the ground in Syria and in neighboring states…they are working to create a clear framework to confront the regime.” He revealed that “it is no longer allowed, for example, for Damascus to be bombarded and Aleppo to be silent, or for Aleppo to be bombarded and Hama to rest.”

Miqdad stressed that “the confrontation requires for the five fronts to be opened all at once in Syria, and we hope to finalize plans to begin the implementation phase which we expect will have very good results” adding “our sisterly countries have adopted this plan, and we hope that all countries follow suit.”

He said “all of the countries that are concerned about the Syrian crisis must arm the FSA with heavy arms, and we pledge that such arms will only be given to officers with high levels of experience, and that such arms will not reach extremist groups” adding “we are prepared to return these weapons following the liberation of Syria.”