Free Syrian Army confirms new chief

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A picture taken on March 1, 2014 shows rebel fighters inspecting the wreckage of a Syrian army helicopter after al-Qaeda-linked group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria allegedly destroyed it when they left the Meng Military Airport, in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, to prevent other opposition groups to take it over. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed al-Khatib)

Published Saturday, March 8, 2014

The so-called Free Syrian Army has confirmed the appointment of its new chief, Brigadier General Abdel Ilah al-Bashir, after former head General Salim Idriss had initially refused to step down.

The FSA confirmed "the dismissal of Idriss and the appointment of... Bashir as head of the Supreme Military Council," in a statement late on Friday.

Bashir, who defected from the government army to join rebels fighting in southern Syria, had originally been appointed to head the FSA in mid-February.

But Idriss and several senior commanders in the field rejected his dismissal, with some branding it as an undemocratic "coup."

The FSA's Higher Military Council removed Idriss from his position in February, citing the "difficulties faced by the Syrian revolution" in its battle to overthrow the Syrian government.

Idriss and his allies had blamed the opposition's defense minister Assaad Mustafa for his removal.

But earlier this week, opposition chief Ahmad Jarba had met with several top military leaders, including Idriss and Mustafa.

During the meeting it was agreed both Idriss and Mustafa would quit their positions and Idriss would be named military adviser to Jarba.

Considered the "moderate" rebel group, the Western-backed FSA was once the country's strongest armed opposition force but has now largely been marginalized by powerful jihadist groups.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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