Spokesman calls for arming Syrian rebels

Spokesman calls for arming Syrian rebels

Ahu Özyurt HATAY / CNN Türk
Spokesman calls for arming Syrian rebels

A Syrian woman walks at Reyhanlı refugee camp in Hatay province on the Turkish-Syrian border March 19. Turkey also hosts Syrian defectors in these camps. REUTERS photo

A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a lieutenant who defected from the Syrian army, said the FSA needs arms to fight against al-Assad regime forces, and called on the Istanbul “Friends of Syria” meeting scheduled for April to agree to provide arms to the rebels.

“Enough talk about humanitarian aid. We are grateful for all the political support. But we expect the April meeting [of Friends of Syria] in Istanbul to talk seriously about providing us with arms,” Lt. Ammar Alwavi told the CNNTürk news channel in a safe house near the southeastern province of Hatay. Expressing his gratitude to Turkey’s leaders for the pressure they have put on al-Assad, Alwavi said the rebels expect concrete results from the April 2 meeting. “We think the talk of humanitarian aid should be put aside. We need arms. This regime will eventually go down. It has no moral or political legitimacy,” Alwavi added.

Alwavi, wearing a FSA new uniform, described the FSA as “Fifty to sixty thousand well-prepared, well-disciplined soldiers from all ethnic and sectarian backgrounds.” Alwavi also said that the FSA has one commander, Col. Riyad al-Asaad. “But we only have light arms. No heavy weaponry. That is our only weakness,” he added.

Alwavi stressed that there should be no concern about a sectarian partition or civil war in the post-Assad Syria. “Libya is still in one piece. Syrians will never fall into that trap. We will remain a unified nation,” Alwavi said.

No arms aid from Turkey

Alwavi openly denied allegations that the FSA has received arms from Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey. “If Turkey had given us any arms, the regime would have changed by now,” he said. Alwavi also mentioned the need for a buffer zone, saying that thousands of Syrians cannot flee to Turkey because they are afraid to do so. Alwavi said many defectors “Unless there is a safe area like a buffer zone, it will be very hard to unify the resistance.”