Syria rebels unite against al-Qaeda
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Several Syrian rebel rgoups have come together recently for a new Islamist formation called ‘The Islamic Front.’ AFP photoFifteen Syrian armed opposition groups, including the Supreme Military Council of Free Syrian Army (FSA), have established a new front under the name of “Syrian Rebels Front” to fight both President Bashar al-Assad’s government and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria.
The former spokesperson for the Supreme Military Council, Col. Qassim Saad Eddine, called on all other fractions to join the front, which included 15 battalions and a brigade belonging to the FSA. Eddine also said the new “Syrian Rebels Front” would create “the core of the Syrian army in the future.”
According to the statement, the aim of the new group was “to overthrow the al-Assad regime and protect the people and the country.”
Eddine said in July 2013 that the killing of senior FSA commander Kamal Hamami by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was a declaration of war.
The announcement of the new front came one month after Syria’s most powerful rebel groups said they had forged a new Islamic force called “The Islamic Front” and were seeking to topple the government of al-Assad and replace it with an Islamic state.
Meanwhile, a prominent member of the political wing of the Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), refuted allegations that the commander of the FSA, Gen. Salim Idris, fled Syria after Islamist militant fighters ran him out of his headquarters.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which was based on White House sources, Idris flew to Doha recently after fleeing to Turkey from Syria.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a member of the SNC claimed “Idris has been living in three countries, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan for the last one year. He was going to Syria from time to time.”
The 13-month-old U.S.-backed Syrian National Coalition, which supports the FSA, is based in Doha. The United States and United Kingdom have suspended all “non-lethal” support for rebels in northern Syria after the Islamic Front took over key FSA-controlled warehouses holding lethal and non-lethal weapons intended for moderate fighters in northern Syria.