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IRGC, Hezbollah helping regime forces – FSA commander | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Colonel Khalid al-Habous, commander of the operations of the Free Syrian Army [FSA] in Damascus and the surrounding area, confirmed the presence of elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp [IRGC] and Hezbollah operating on the ground in Syria.

He informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “numerous defected soldiers and civilians present on the ground in the battle with al-Assad forces…have seen Iranian snipers and Hezbollah elements with their own eyes. There are some claims that there are Iranian [military] trainers and IRGC elements at the military security training camps in the Sayyida Zainab area [of Damascus] and the Zarzar Lake area [30 km northwest of Damascus]. There are also claims that IRGC elements are taking part in the assault on the neighbourhoods of Homs. We do not know the precise number [of IRGC members in Syria], but there are many.”

As to the extent that elements of the IRGC and Hezbollah are participating in suppression the Syrian revolution, Colonel Khalid al-Habous said “we are aware of the involvement of Hezbollah elements from the traces they leave – which reveals their identity – on the walls of mosques and houses they break into, as well as the bodies of our children and the testimonies of people who confirm these elements speak in a Lebanese accent.”

In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Colonel al-Habous also spoke about the FSA’s general operations and strategies, revealing that he had served in the [Syrian] army for 32 years prior to his defection and that he knows the “military tactics utilized by the [al-Assad] regime which does not change, namely it follows the methodology of ‘provoke…assault…arrest…kill…destroy.’”

When asked about the areas that the FSA is actually in control of within the Syrian capital and the surrounding area, the FSA commander acknowledged that “our resources do not allow us to take control on the ground. Our confrontations with the regime’s forces are based on hit-and-run tactics.”

Colonel al-Habous also asserted that “the bombings in Damascus and Aleppo, particularly in the neighbourhoods of our Christian brothers, were carried out by the [al-Assad] regime in order to divide the people and incite hatred of the FSA.”

As for the FSA’s structure and composition, the FSA commander for Damascus and the surrounding area informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the FSA is made up of defected officers and NCOs, as well as civilian volunteers” adding “we have the requisite military expertise to confront the [al-Assad] regime’s forces, particularly as we were within its ranks.”

Colonel al-Habous also revealed that “we are in dire need of sniper rifles and silencers, as well as advanced communication equipment that cannot be hacked and shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft weaponry.” He added that the FSA is suffering from a lack of ammunition, but that the opposition forces attack al-Assad military warehouses and camps in order to seize ammunition. The FSA commander also asserted that “we have sufficient food, medicines, and means of treating casualties, thank God.”

As for civilians cooperating with the FSA, Colonel al-Habous revealed that “we are of the people, and our duty is to defend the people…therefore we are welcomed and supported by the [Syrian] people.”

Colonel al-Habous denied that the FSA is relying on guerrilla warfare as some of its elements had claimed in the past. He stressed “we do not rely on guerrilla warfare and do not believe in such uncontrolled combat. We adopt a tactic that is taught in most international military colleges, namely that of lightning strikes…to attack our targets with small numbers and capture the spoils [of war].”

Colonel Khalid al-Habous enrolled in the Syrian Military College in 1980, he joined the1st Armoured Division between 1983 and 2000, he moved to the [Syrian] southern sector command in 2000, where he served until his arrest on 7 June 2011. He was held by the Syrian forces until 15 January 2012.

In a report confirmed by an FSA source inside Syria, it was claimed that deputy commander of the FSA’s forces in Damascus, Colonel al-Moatasim Billah Abu al-Walid, was arrested by Syrian army forces following an ambush last week.