Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—On Friday, the head of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) Ahmed Jarba revealed plans to form a “national army” consisting of 6,000 opposition fighters to fight what he described as “warlords” taking part in Syria’s over two-year-old civil war.
At an event held in the Jordanian capital, Amman, Jarba stated that the SNC, in cooperation with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), is working towards “forming a national army to get rid of warlords and solve many problems.”
The Gulf-backed head of the SNC revealed that the new army will call for volunteers from the north and south of Syria.
In a statement, Jarba announced the next few weeks “will witness a genuine military development on the ground,” adding, “There is a real intention to change the rules of the game in a practical, genuine and realistic way.”
According to a senior FSA source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, the FSA command, in coordination with the SNC, has taken steps to “organize and discipline the battalions on the ground in order to form as a basis for a reliable army in post-Assad Syria.”
As for what is meant by the term “warlords,” the same source explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that they include “groups exploiting the tough circumstances Syrians are going through by monopolizing food supplies and services, as well as allegedly revolutionary formations that do not fulfill their military duties and are [instead] occupied with stealing oil and wheat to sell on the black market and make money.”
Also in this category are “the undisciplined formations that adopt a suspicious and extremist agenda that is detached from the moderate Islamic thought Syrians are familiar with,” the source added, in a reference to the Islamist battalions taking part in the war against the Syrian regime.
Other SNC sources announced that “there are many ideas on the table and that several new forces have been formed,” adding “these forces are disciplined and organized, as well as trained, to deal with civilians and fight by using modern ways.”
The source denied claims the new army will be independent from the FSA stressing that the FSA council will form as its “core.”
Jarba’s comments come amid increasing criticism of several FSA-linked battalions for violations committed against civilians and regime troops. They also come against the backdrop of growing conflict between FSA and Islamist units that led to a spate of assassinations of several opposition commanders in the villages of Latakia and Idlib.