FSA launch military council to attack Damascus

Members of the rebel 'Free Syrian Army' gather inside their quarters in the Syrian town of Binnish (Binesh), in the restive northern Idlib province, on March 22, 2012 (AFP Photo / Ricardo Garcia Vilanova)
The rebel Free Syrian Army has announced the formation of its “military council for Damascus” aimed at co-ordinating attacks in and around the city.

“I, Colonel Khaled Mohammed Al Hammud, announce the creation of the military council for Damascus and the region that will be in charge of FSA operations in this area,” the man, apparently, an army deserter says in the video which appeared on the Internet.

He called on the “noble officers” who remain in Assad’s army to change sides and join their newly created council.

The council “represents a unified leadership for deserters from the army to reassure those supporting the FSA,” said Ahmad al-Khatib, who called himself a rebel spokesman for the Damascus area, as quoted by AFP.

The group has staged numerous hit-and-run raids on Assad's forces across the country.

Damascus until recently had remained relatively calm throughout the year-long conflict in the country. But last Saturday, twin explosions shook the Syrian capital, killing 27 people and injuring as many as 140 others, both civilians and members of the security forces. Violence in Damascus continued on Monday morning as fighting broke out between opposition groups and state security forces. The clash reportedly resulted in at least one death, that of a law enforcement officer, while three more were injured in a shoot-out.

Earlier on March 1, the Syrian National Council, the country’s main opposition group, announced the formation of a military council to organize and unify all armed resistance to President Assad’s regime. The new council, the SNC explained at the time, would be “like a Ministry of Defense.”

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has adopted a non-binding statement on Syria backing joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's plan, which includes an immediate ceasefire by both sides, as well as access for humanitarian aid and the start of political dialogue.

However, Syria’s main opposition group has denounced the UN’s statement, saying that it only gives Assad's regime more time to continue committing acts of violence against its own people.

"Such statements, issued amid continued killings, offer the regime the opportunity to push ahead with its repression in order to crush the revolt by the Syrian people," said Samir Nashar, a member of the executive committee of the Syrian National Council.

“It is hard to imagine that they will do this [agree to talks with the government],” political analyst Joshua Landis told RT. “The opposition wants to replace this government entirely.”

Landis said that even though the UN Security Council has reached a consensus, “it is not really likely to work,” as both sides believe that time is on their side and they can win.

“The Assad regime is doing classic, clear-and-hold operations against the rebels. And the rebels believe that with the external world on their side, particularly the West, with sanctions on Syria, and with the Gulf Arabs willing to spend money on them, they will eventually overwhelm the regime and will be able to win once they have their side organized and better equipped,” he says.


­Journalist and author Neil Clark told RT it is “totally irresponsible and wrong” on the part of the West to be supporting and encouraging rebels as there is a better, peaceful solution  through the election process.

“These rebel groups should now lay down their arms and take part in elections and let the Syrian people decide,” he said.

President Assad has announced parliamentary elections for May 7.