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Inside Syria

The future of the Free Syrian Army

We examine the shifting alliances within the opposition and the likely impact on achieving stability in Syria.

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2013 12:59
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In recent weeks much of the focus has been about Syria's chemical weapons but with shifting alliances among opposition factions the situation has just become a lot more complex.

The truth is, and it's a sad truth - that people like General (Salim) Idris and Colonel Zakaria in Turkey, are totally out of touch with what is happening within the FSA inside Syria - they live in a fantasy world - partly of course because it is encouraged by the Americans, partly because they feel - and with good reason - that they should be the supreme leadership ...

Robert Fisk, foreign correspondent for The Independent

On September 24, thirteen of the most powerful rebel groups withdrew their recognition of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) - and proposed the formation of a new opposition coalition bound by the view that Sharia should be the only source of legislation in a new Syria.

These groups include the Tawheed Brigade, and the al-Nusra front, which controls tens of thousands of fighters; significantly it also includes several factions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

And on September 29, a number of rebel factions fighting in the outskirts of Damascus formed a new body called the Islam Army - composed of some forty groups generally regarded as religiously moderate.

With apparent defections on all sides this leaves the Free Syrian Army increasingly splintered.

The SNC's influence on the ground was always questionable but now it does not seem to have any sway at all over the armed opposition.

Efforts by Ahmad Jarba, the head of the SNC, to restructure opposition forces into a national army, were never welcomed by those inside Syria who described it is a "western project".

The increasing levels of violence and infighting between several opposition groups have left many Syrians afraid, and fearful for the future stability of their country.

Inside Syria, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses the future of the FSA with guests: Colonel Abdel-Hamid Zakaria, a spokesman for the FSA; Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle East Politics and Intenational Relations at London School of Economics; and Robert Fisk, a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent.

"To begin with ... what is taking place on the ground is not fragmentation or defection from the Free Syrian Army, what happened is that certain units declared they are opposing the Syrian Coalition [under] the misconception that the coalition will head to Geneva to conference without clear conditions - namely the departure of al-Assad ... what's taking place on the ground - the mobilisation of units - does not necessarily mean defection or division."

Colonel Abdel-Hamid Zakaria, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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