FSA to be renamed Syrian National Army
Published Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The Free Syrian Army plans to rename itself as part of major reforms to overcome divisions and address the growing number of rogue militias, a rebel general said on Wednesday.
Following discussions due to end in around 10 days, the FSA would go by the name of the Syrian National Army, General Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the military council grouping rebel chiefs, told AFP.
The FSA, which has grown from a rag-tag force of military defectors into a popular guerrilla insurgent movement buoyed by civilian recruits, was also set to appoint General Mohammed Hussein Hajj Ali as its highest-ranking officer.
"After a long period, we must restructure the army because we fear the proliferation of militias in Syria and want to preserve the country's future," said the brigadier general, who was among the first to defect to the FSA.
Among those areas that needed restructuring was the control of funds that reach rebel fighters, in order to "prevent the creation of militias because that is very dangerous," said Sheikh.
While rebel groups are gathered under the auspices of the FSA, the structure of the rebel army remains vague and lacks a strong and cohesive central command.
"There are many groups that claim to be the FSA but do as they please," said the general.
He said reforms were key to winning the support of the international community which has so far been reluctant to arm the rebels "on the grounds that the (FSA) is not a real institution."
The rebel army has thousands of fighters, among them about 3,000 officers of various ranks, including 70 generals, according to Sheikh.
Unifying the FSA ranks would prevent Syria from "sinking into a civil and confessional war after the fall of the regime" of President Bashar al-Assad, Sheikh added.