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Syria rallies called in support of armed rebels | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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NICOSIA, (AFP) — Activists called for nationwide demonstrations in support of the Free Syrian Army on Friday, a day after the main civilian opposition umbrella group agreed to work more closely with the armed rebels.

Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghaliun met with rebel chief Colonel Riad al-Asaad on Thursday and “extensively discussed the situation on the ground and the organisational capacity of the FSA”, an SNC statement said.

“The parties agreed to formulate a detailed plan, to include the reorganisation of FSA units and brigades, and the creation of a format to accommodate within FSA ranks additional officers and soldiers, especially senior military officials, who side with the revolution,” it added.

Formed from deserters from the regular army who mutinied over the regime’s deadly 10-month crackdown on anti-government protests, the Free Syrian Army says it has some 40,000 fighters under its command.

The numbers cannot be independently verified although the Syrian authorities have acknowledged mounting losses at the hands of the rebels in recent months.

“The SNC proposed a plan of action concerning mechanisms and avenues of support to be offered to pro-revolution sectors of the Syrian military,” the group’s statement said.

“Additionally, a direct channel of communication between the SNC and FSA will be established… to ensure effective coordination between the two.

“The SNC intends to establish a liaison office with the FSA in order to maintain direct communications around the clock.”

The SNC initially opposed the use of force in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad which erupted last March.

But in the face of his regime’s deadly crackdown on unarmed protesters, the SNC opened talks with the FSA in late-November and the two organisations have since held a series of further meetings in which they have stepped up cooperation.

More than 5,000 people have lost their lives in the violence in Syria, the United Nations estimated last month.