The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC) has posted a "Code of Conduct" for all Free Syrian Army members to follow. It appears to have been designed to address concerns about human rights violations, including field trials and summary executions, conducted by some members of the disparate and decentralised insurgency. It is also likely to be an initiative for a leadership role for the LCC, as part of a coordinated effort to reform the leadership and structure of the FSA.
Yesterday, we posted an activist account of the reported agenda of a major opposition meeting next week in Turkey. The goal of the discussion is to establish a better control structure for the FSA, confronting the human rights issues and establishing a transitional and representative government that works with the FSA.
The LCC has been officially opposed to insurgency. Their members have not taken up arms, and the protests organized by the organisation remain committed to peaceful defiance. However, the LCC clearly supports the actions of the Free Syrian Army and recognise that the FSA's operations are likely to bring the eventual unravelling of the regime.
This document seeks to establish the idea of a clear separation between civilian leaders and military leaders, with the former in charge of the latter. And here's the most important thing to note --- some of the most powerful and influential members of the Free Syrian Army, including many influential local and regional brigade commanders, have signed.
New Battalions Sign the Code of Conduct
As the ranks of the Free Syrian Army expand and its brave fighters fight a national, multi-front battle, there has become a need for rules to govern their work. These rules must combine the spirit of the national duty they carry out today in facing the aggressor, Bashar Al-Assad and his regime, and moving towards the regime’s ouster and the interests of justice and military discipline.
The Local Coordination Committees presents this brief code of conduct to the fighters and to the public, so as to draw attention to and highlight the moral and political ethics of military action. These ethics are, in essence, the same as positions the Free Syrian Army has taken in recent days, as well as the principles they have announced. These ethics and principles represent the essence of our revolution and its moral and national foundation.
The Syrian Revolution erupted in Mid-March 2011 against a corrupt and despotic regime that weakened a country and humiliated its people, raising a small group of elites above the Syrian general public. From the very beginning, the regime responded to popular protests with violence and hatred, and pitted the national army against the revolutionary citizens to protect the oppressive regime.
The Free Syrian Army was formed by honorable officers, junior officers, and soldiers who defected from the regime because they refused to kill their fellow citizens. They were joined by brave civilians whose families and homes were destroyed by Assad’s aggression.
Today, the Free Syrian Army plays a genuine military role in the glorious Syrian revolution. Therefore, the values and goals of the revolution (freedom, dignity, and justice for Syria and the Syrian people, and the protection and unity of the country), must serve as the military doctrine and governing principles for the Army’s actions and the behavior of its members.
The Free Syrian Army looks forward to the day when Syria will be free, so that it might be at the core of a new national army that protects the country’s independence, sovereignty, constitution, and democratic institutions. The Free Syrian Army is sacrificing its blood in order for that day to come.
In the Free Syrian Army, as an independent, defected soldier, or civilian volunteer, my first responsibilities are to:
Defend Syrian revolutionaries in the face of tyranny and ensure the continuation of the revolution to oust the regime. I will direct my weapons exclusively against Assad aggressors. I will serve my nation, Syria, and the freedom of the Syrian people. I am a fighter in the battle to defend my people.
I will use my weapons to overthrow the criminal regime that has been imposed upon us.
I pledge to my people and my revolution that I will refrain from any behavior or practice that would undermine the principles of our revolution: the principles of freedom, citizenship, and dignity. I will respect human rights in accordance with our legal principles, our tolerant religious principles, and the international laws governing human rights – the very human rights for which we struggle today and which we intend to implement in the future Syria.
Any person who takes up arms in the name of the regime, regardless of their rank, should be arrested and remain in the custody of the Free Syrian Army. In the event that an individual is arrested, and it is determined that the individual was working for the regime, voluntarily or for payment, to supply information about revolutionary activists, that individual shall be considered a prisoner and treated in accordance with laws governing prisoners of war.
I pledge not to practice any form of torture, rape, mutilation, or degradation. I will preserve prisoners’ rights and will not exercise any of the above practices in order to obtain confessions.
I will not issue any executive orders, particularly with regard to death or corporal punishment. Only an appropriate legal authority, with relevant expertise, may conduct trials and find perpetrators guilty.
I will not engage in any practice that leads to the physical torture or murder of prisoners or informants, and I will not participate in any public execution.
I pledge not to engage in any form of theft or looting on the pretext that I am helping to finance the armed struggle. I pledge not to take any person hostage for ransom.
I pledge not to use my weapon against activists or civilians, whether or not I agree with them; and I pledge to not use my weapon against any other Syrian citizen. I pledge to limit my use of weapons to the defense of our people and myself in facing the criminal regime.
I pledge not to exercise reprisals on the basis of ethnicity, sect, religion, or any other basis, and to refrain from any abusive practices, in word or in deed, against any component of the Syrian people.
I pledge to surrender my weapons to the Transitional Authority, which will manage the country’s affairs during the transitional period after the fall of the regime.
If found guilty of violating any of these articles, I agree to submit to a fair trial undertaken by specialized committees formed under the supervision of the Free Syrian Army’s leadership and monitored by an independent judiciary body.
Lieutenant Colonel Muhannad Ahmad Al-Talaa, Commander of the Military Council of Deir Ezzor
Colonel Qassim Saad Eddin, Commander of the Military Council in Homs
Sergeant Ismail Sheikh Saleh, Jisr Al-Shoghour, Idlib
Lieutenant Colonel Zahid Hourani, head of the Military Office in Homs
Major Ibrahim Moutawaa, Commander of the Al-Nour Battalion in Qosair
Colonel Radwan Ayyoush, Commander of the Military Office in Homs
Lieutenant Colonel Jamil Ra’adoun, Commander of the League of Battalions in the Hama Countryside
Colonel Khaled Alqatini of Khan Sheihoun and its countryside
First Lieutenant Hamza Qaziz, Al-Baraa Brigade in Douma
The Al-Baraa Brigade in Douma
Major Abou Mohammad Al-Homsi, the Soldiers of God Brigade in Damascus
The Falcons of the Land Brigade in Hama
The Martyrs of Latamna Battalion
The Martyrs of Asi Battalion in Hama
The Abi Al-Fidaa Battalion in Hama
The Special Operations Battalion in Hama
The Sunna Lions Battalion in Mayadeen
The Omar Al-Mukhtar Battalion in Deir Baalba, Homs
Abdul Baset Sarout
Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad al-Aboud Commander of the Revolutionary Military Council in Deir Ezzor
Captain Mostafa Shawardi/ Ansar Mohammad Battalion in Mawrak
Lieutenant Colonel Hafez Jad AlKaeem Faraj Commander of the Military Council in the Governorate of Sweida
Lieutenant Maher al-Tamer Commander of Shuhada al-Hurriya (Martyrs of Freedom) Battalion in Mawrak
Al-Haq (The Truth) Battalion in Mqeilbiya
Burkan al-Sham (Damascus Volcano) Battalion
Major Qassem Najem/ Tahrir alJanoob Battalion in Daraa
Captain Khaled Fatehallah Commander of the Free Syrian Army in Daeel
Captain Ali Shakerdi/ al-Amjad Battalion in Aleppo