Syrian rebels attack intelligence base

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, December 2, 2011

Army defectors, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), attacked another Syrian intelligence facility on Thursday in the north of the country, killing eight, the activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The FSA launched the offensive in the province of Idlib, between the coastal town of Latakia and the flashpoint village of Jisr al-Shughour, the London-based group reported.

"A group of army defectors ... attacked the Air Force Intelligence center," it said.

"A clash ensued for three hours which lead to the death of at least eight members of the Air Force Intelligence".

The attack occurred after Syria's main political opposition group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), announced on Thursday it would coordinate with the FSA, declaring the armed rebels would only serve to protect peaceful protesters and refrain from offensive military operations.

"We agreed that the duty of the Free Syrian Army is to protect people, but not to attack," had said Khaled Khoja, a member of the SNC's foreign relations committee.

The deal came a week after SNC head Burhan Ghalioun urged the FSA to withhold from attacking the Syrian Army, and serve only as a defensive force.

"We would like this army to carry out defensive actions to protect those who have left the (regime's) army and peaceful demonstrations, but not take on offensive actions against the army," Ghalioun of the council had said.

The announced coordination is a shift from the SNC's previous declaration that it would aim to preserve the "peaceful nature of the revolution."

Local Coordination Committees spokesperson, Rafif Jouejati, told Al-Akhbar it was possible to keep the protests peaceful while recognizing a protective armed force.

"The protesters themselves are peaceful, if there's a protective force that's an entirely different story," she said.

Neither the SNC nor the FSA have elaborated on what's inferred by the reference to "protect people," or if Thursday's attack on the Syrian intelligence facility was sanctioned by the agreement.

The attack cannot be independently verified, and the Syrian government has yet to confirm it took place.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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