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Entries in Syria Comment (5)


Syria Debate: Does the "Free Syrian Army" Exist? (Lund and Debeuf)

General Salim Idriss, head of the insurgent Supreme Military Council, addresses Syrian expatriates, 24 February 2013

One of the themes in our daily coverage of Syria is the state of the insurgency, from the ideology and organisation of different factions to the supply of weapons to the efforts to declare an umbrella leadership such as the "Free Syrian Army".

Last week, Aron Lund brought these issues into stark relief with a post on Syria Comment questioning if one could even speak of an FSA. Days later, Koert Debeuf replied on the website with a vigorous defence of a leading group directing the

EA's James Miller comments:

Lund made some important points in his initial article. To criticise it by saying that it was an oversimplification would be unfair. After all, nothing is more complex than the "Free Syrian Army", and Lund has produced an impressively concise summary.

Debeuf, however, makes a more important point. The "Free Syrian Army" has never had any meaning more than it does todayinsurgency.

The opening and closing sections of the Lund and Debeuf articles....

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Syria Live Coverage: Insurgents Take Another Major Airbase Near Aleppo

Video from Thursday showing insurgents firing RPGs on the as-Safira airbase in Aleppo Province

See also Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Thousands March as Clashes Continue
Saturday's Syria Live Coverage: "Assad Must Be Held Accountable for His Crimes"

1731 GMT: Defections? An opposition activist tells Al Jazeera that 650 regime soldiers, including 50 officers, have defected in Damascus Province.

1725 GMT: Hezbollah v. Insurgents? At least one Hezbollah fighter and five Syrian insurgents have been killed in clashes in Syrian territory on the border with Lebanon.

Hadi al-Abdallah of the Syrian Revolution General Commission said fighting broke out on Saturday after Hezbollah, in control of eight Syrian border villages, tried to expand into three adjacent Sunni villages held by the Free Syrian Army.

"The Hezbollah force moved on foot and was supported by multiple rocket launchers. The Free Syrian Army had to call in two tanks that had been captured from the Assad army to repel the attack," Abdallah said.

Earlier today a Hezbollah official said two Lebanese men had been killed and 14 wounded while acting in "self-defence" against Syrian insurgents.

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Syria 1st-Hand: "The First Breakdown of Regime Control in Aleppo"

University of Aleppo students demonstrate against the regime on Monday

I just had a long conversation with friends and family in Aleppo. It may not be long before the city joins the revolution, I believe. My father could not travel by car to the border with Turkey. No driver dares take the roads north any longer, [even though] the drive to Turkey is only a half-hour. The working-class neighborhoods of Azaz, Hreitan and Anadan have largely fallen out of government control. Friends who own factories in the industrial regions outside of Aleppo complain that for a week now they have been unable to visit them. Lack of security, frequent anti-regime demonstrations and clashes between militants and the army make the excursion impossible.

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Syria Interview: Opposition Activist Louay Hussein "Our Priority is a Made-in-Syria Solution"

I believe there are two reasons why demonstrations will significantly diminish: first, the violent oppression by the authorities recently and second, the increase in the number of armed operations by groups opposed to the authorities such as “The Free Syrian Army”. This is why I expect more bloodshed in Syria. Moreover, I worry that if we fail to reach a homegrown settlement of the conflict very quickly, we will clearly witness different aspects of a civil war in the near future. 

Facing this reality and looking back at the past seven months, I am afraid both the regime and the leadership of the opposition did not prove at all they are up to their responsibilities at the national level. This is why each of them is throwing the ball to the other’s court, and both proved unable to introduce serious and realistic initiatives. I am disappointed, and I blame the leaders of the opposition who did not dare to try to lead the street, instead preferring to proudly act merely as an echo of the voice of the street.

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Syria Snapshot: The Regime's Narrative of the Deaths in Jisr al-Shughour

We got a tour of the place with lots of press. The story is that the Syrian Military Intelligence (SMI) garrison was attacked and seized over the course of about 36 hours between 4 and 5 June. 500 “armed criminals” attacked. The detachment, about 72 people, was overrun when they ran out of ammo. The condition of the place was pretty consistent with an armed attack, though I don’t think it lasted that long and I think the garrison likely surrendered. The insurgents then took over the city, looting several gov’t buildings, esp the Palace of Justice and burning the files there, esp the criminal investigation records. These buildings were extensively damaged. No evidence of real damage in the rest of the town – I don’t think the military took it by force. They just rolled in.

There are people returning – we saw a convoy of what we were told was refugees returning from Turkey, waving Syrian flags and photos of the President. The city is still pretty devoid of people, but there are some shops open and people in the streets. They seem to get along with the soldiers, but that could have been staged for our benefit.

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