Share This Page

Opposition leader admits command problems

| Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 7:57 p.m.

ANTAKYA, Turkey ­— The defected Syrian general whom the United States has selected as its conduit for aid to the rebels has acknowledged that his movement is badly fragmented and lacks the military skill needed to topple the government of President Bashar Assad.

Gen. Salim Idriss, who leads what's known as the Supreme Military Command, admitted that he faces difficulty in establishing a chain of command in Syria's highly localized rebellion, a shortcoming he blamed on the presence within the rebel movement of large numbers of civilians without military experience.

“It is difficult to unify the (rebels) because they are civilians and only a few of them had military service,” Idriss said.

Idriss has become the key man in the international coalition that's battling to end the Assad regime. The United States announced in April that it would funnel $123 million in nonlethal aid through his group, an operation that's begun. At the same time, U.S. allies, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, agreed at a meeting in Istanbul that all lethal aid destined for the rebels would pass first to Idriss.

He acknowledged that he has little influence over what the rebels do in Syria and no direct authority over some of the largest factions, including the Farouq Brigade, whose forces control key parts of the countryside from Homs to the Turkish border.

Asked to delineate which battles his group had been active in coordinating, he spoke of fights in the northern and central parts of the country, including the siege of air bases near Aleppo and a fresh operation around the city of Hama.

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.