Dispute arises among Syrian army defectors
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Esaad Araf and Raghda Dabbagh (L) from Syrian Americans for Democracy group will meet Colonel al-Asaad in Hatay.Syrian dissidents are skeptical about “The Higher Revolutionary Council” headed by the defector General Mustafa Ahmed al-Sheikh and designed to supersede the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
“We offered General Mustafa Ahmed al-Sheikh to work with us. But he refused because he wants to be the leader of the FSA. However FSA has already had a leader, who is Colonel Riad al-Asaad,” Lama al-Atassi, a Syrian dissident and spokesperson responsible for the communications of the FSA told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Feb. 7.
“We can’t give the lead of the FSA to every general who escapes from the regime, it has to have one certain leader.” Syrian army defectors announced Feb. 6 the formation of a higher military council to “liberate” the country from President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. The council, designed to supersede the FSA, said its head was General Mustafa Ahmed al-Sheikh, the highest ranking deserter who had fled to Turkey, Reuters reported.
‘Syrian Americans for Democracy’
The council’s spokesman was Major Maher al-Naimi, previously the FSA spokesman, according to a statement sent to Reuters. The Higher Revolutionary Council has no members whatsoever inside Syria, Lama al-Atassi said.
Vice-president of the “Syrian Americans for Democracy” group Esaad Araf and Raghda Dabbagh, Syrian dissidents who have been living in the U.S. for more than 30 years, have come to Turkey in order to meet with the FSA leader Colonel Riad al-Asaad in Hatay, where the Syrian sheltering camps are located. Esaad Araf said most of the Syrian dissidents are skeptical about the The Higher Revolutionary Council headed by General Mustafa Ahmed al-Sheikh.
”We only recognize the FSA right now. General al-Sheikh’s revolutionary group has just popped up out of the blue. We don’t know them, we don’t think that it was the right time for something like this,” Araf told the Daily News in an interview on Feb. 7.