SNC to coordinate arms supplies to Syrian rebels

Members of the Free Syrian Army are seen deployed in al-Bayada, Homs, 29 February 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Stringer)

Published Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Istanbul-based Syrian National Council (SNC) wants to organize arms deliveries from foreign countries to Syrian rebels through its new military bureau, its chief Burhan Ghalioun said on Thursday.

"We know that some countries have expressed a desire to arm the revolutionaries. The SNC, via its military bureau, wanted to organize this flow to avoid direct arms deliveries from particular countries," he said.

"The SNC will be this link between those who want to help and the revolutionaries. It is out of the question that arms go into Syria in confusion," he said.

The SNC have established deep ties with autocratic Gulf monarchies and Western powers, diverging from internally-based Syrian opposition groups that reject foreign involvement and armed action.

Ghalioun's pulling power on the Syrian protest street remains questionable, raising doubts about the SNC's motives in the Syrian crisis.

The SNC's call comes in line with Gulf Arab states which have pledged to support the militarization of the conflict, despite concerns it could lead to a civil war.

Last week the Saudi foreign minister Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said arming the opposition was an “excellent idea,” while Qatar has also pledged to back the Free Syrian Army militarily.

Kuwait's parliament adopted on Thursday a non-binding resolution calling on the government to arm the Syrian opposition and to sever diplomatic ties with Damascus.

Russia, China and the Syrian government have condemned the moves as provoking a civil war that could cause chaos across the Middle East.

Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi described the calls as undermining efforts to reach a peace agreement and blamed the Gulf states for exacerbating the ongoing violence.

"We would like the brothers in Qatar and Saudi Arabia or whomsoever to contribute to getting the opposition figures to act rationally and come to the dialogue table."

"Not to arm the opposition and shedding the Syrian blood, for which they are fully responsible as they are consciously shedding it," Syrian state media quoted Maqdisi as saying.

The SNC announced Wednesday it was setting up the bureau to supervise the "armed resistance" against the regime.

Ghalioun said the military bureau would bring together the rebel Free Syrian Army and other groups of deserters.

"This military bureau will be located as close as possible to the field of action, probably in Turkey," Ghalioun said.

"Its mission will be to see which arms are necessary and for which missions," he said. "We will determine our requests, our needs for arms and we will see which country to get them from.

Meanwhile, Syria's foreign ministry said on Thursday it was willing to discuss a date for a visit by the UN humanitarian chief, saying the timing she had originally requested was "not suitable."

UN undersecretary general Valerie Amos had "requested to come to Syria at a time that was not suitable for us. We are willing to continue discussions with her about a time suitable for both sides," the ministry said in a statement carried by state television.

The UN updated its Syrian casualty figure to over 7,500 dead. The Syrian government maintains at least 2,000 security personnel have been killed since the uprising began almost a year ago.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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