Syrian rebels reportedly relocate their HQ in somewhere in northern Syria. AFP photo
Syrian rebels have moved their command base from Turkey to “liberated areas” inside Syria, with the aim of uniting the fractured rebel forces and speeding up the fall of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“The Free Syrian Army (FSA) command has moved into liberated areas of Syria following arrangements made with battalions and brigades to secure these zones,” FSA chief Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad said in a video posted on the Internet. The next step will be to “liberate” the capital Damascus, he added.
Brig. Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, who heads the Military Council, told The Associated Press that the group had made the move last week. He would not say where the new headquarters is located or give any other details.
Al-Sheikh said moving the command “will speed up the fall of the regime because it will give a big boost to the morale of rebels and there will be a command to follow-up on operations.”
“There are liberated areas now and it’s better for the command to be with the rebels instead of being abroad,” al-Sheikh said in a phone interview from Turkey. The general said he had recently been going back and forth between Turkey and Syria.
“The transfer will allow the command centre to be closer to the fighters,” he told Agence France-Presse.
The FSA also said it now controls most of the war-torn country. A rebel commander said that the regime’s aerial superiority was the only thing preventing the Free Syrian Army from taking control of the capital. “We control most of the country. In most regions, the soldiers are prisoners of their barracks. They go out very little, but we can move freely everywhere, except Damascus,” said Colonel Ahmed Abdel Wahab.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s military deployed armored vehicles and heavy weaponry to the border with Syria on Sept. 22, near a crossing that has seen intense fighting between rebels and government forces. The deployment is reportedly in the town of Akçakale, an area where earlier this week Turkish civilians were wounded when stray bullets and shelling crossed the border from the Syrian province of al-Raqqa. The army moved three Howitzers and one anti-aircraft weapon to the border.