Share This Page

Bid to undercut Assad fails

| Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 9:34 p.m.

A U.S.-supported push to form military councils across Syria to unite the hundreds of groups fighting to topple President Bashar Assad and coordinate the provision of aid to secular rebel groups appears largely to have failed.

Rebels said U.S. officials pressed for the creation of the councils in each of Syria's 14 provinces in response to rebel demands for arms and other support. In December, representatives of various rebel groups met in Turkey and elected a 30-member Supreme Military Council, which then selected defected Syrian Gen. Salim Idriss as its head.

But Syrian activists say the councils have become the subject of derision and mockery inside Syria in the weeks since and that other groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, have assumed the central coordinating position that U.S. officials had hoped the military councils would have.

“I do not hear much about the military councils,” said Jeff White, a military analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “I also do not see yet any indication the Supreme Military Council or regional commands are doing anything yet.”

Members of the military councils have blamed the United States and other nations for failing to provide support, saying that without aid, the councils were unable to gain influence over the fighting inside Syria.

“They had this plan, but no one received any support,” said Mahmoud, a Syrian-American who has set up a small rebel training camp in northern Syria and says he receives support from individual donors. He asked that his full identity not be revealed because of security concerns.

Officials in Washington on Monday continued to voice support for the anti-Assad opposition.

“I think we've seen the opposition in Syria make continued progress,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “I think we've seen Assad's grip on power in Syria continue to lessen. We continue to take steps with our partners to provide both humanitarian aid and non-lethal assistance to the opposition and to work with our partners to help bring about a post-Assad Syria that reflects the will of the Syrian people, because the right outcome here is for the Syrians to decide their own future.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.