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FSA to resume military operations – FSA commander | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Free Syrian Army [FSA] commander Colonel Riad al-Asaad has threatened to resume attacks on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, considering this a “legitimate” defense of the Syrian people, in light of the continuing government crackdown on protests. Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, the FSA commander stressed that “we have reached the climactic stage, regardless of whatever the UN Security Council decides, we will not stand idly by because we are no longer able to tolerate and wait whilst killings, arrests and shelling continue despite the presence of [UN] observers who have been turned into false witnesses.”

He added “Our people are also demanding that we defend them in light of the absence of any serious steps by the UN Security Council, which is granting the regime an opportunity to commit more crimes.”

The FSA commander asserted that “we have today, thanks to God, reached a stage where the FSA is in a strong position, after we have arranged and strengthened our affairs and ranks from the previous stage, and we have implemented a new plan of action for the forthcoming phase that will witness a systematic change in our military operations.”

As for whether this new military strategy will focus on bombings and targeting Syrian government security centers, al-Asaad told Asharq Al-Awsat that “bombings are not part of our ethics, and we don’t need them. Our goal is to target military vehicles and rely solely on explosive devices.”

He also stressed that the FSA has not received any financial or material assistance from any foreign countries, and that any assistance or aid they have received has been from Syrian citizens. He added that “we have developed our military capabilities through the correct investment of our funds and manufacturing certain types of weaponry locally…this will be reflected in the FSA operations in the forthcoming period, and despite the fact that we do not possess vast military capabilities we have elements who are capable of carrying out high-quality operations.”

Colonel al-Asaad also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the FSA is still present on the ground in most areas of Syria, and its withdrawal from [Syrian] cities was solely to spare civilians from military operations and not give the Syrian regime a pretext to say that we are not abiding by the ceasefire.”

As for the recent parliamentary elections that took place in Syria, the FSA commander described these as a “farce that in the end will lead to sanctifying the reality that we have been living for more than 40 years” adding “this regime is telling the world that on one hand we are capable of killing the people, and on the other carrying out elections. These were elections whose results were known in advance.”

Colonel al-Asaad also denied that the FSA is present in Lebanon, stressing that there is no reason for the FSA to have any presence in the neighboring country. The FSA commander said “our cause and our operations are in Syria…some unarmed [FSA] elements may be leaving the country for Lebanon as part of purely humanitarian cases, however this has nothing whatsoever to do with military operations.”

Asked about the possibility of arms being smuggled to the FSA via the Syrian – Lebanese border, Colonel al-Asaad said “we all know who holds the reins of power in Lebanon, this pro-Assad government there has taken strong security measures to prevent any smuggling, so we cannot be accused of this.”

He added “we are well aware that this border was always a station for organized and individual cases of cross-border arms smuggling…however for us, such operations fail to meet our required goals.”