SYRIAN REBELS MOVE COMMAND FROM TURKEY TO SYRIA

The Washington Times on September 22, 2012, published an AP report on the leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army saying that they moved their command center from Turkey to Syria with the aim of uniting rebels and speeding up the fall of President Bashar Assad’s regime. Excerpts below:

Brig. Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, who heads the FSA’s Military Council, told the Associated Press that the group made the move last week. He would not say where the new headquarters is located or give other details.

Despite the announcement of the command move, rebels still have to rely on Turkey as a rear base for supplies and reinforcements. In the past few months, rebels have captured wide swaths of Syrian territory bordering Turkey, along with three border crossings, allowing them to ferry supplies and people into Syria.

Al-Sheikh, another top FSA commander, said moving the command “will speed up the fall of the regime because it will give a big boost to the morale of rebels and there will be a command to follow-up on operations.”

“There are liberated areas now and it’s better for the command to be with the rebels instead of being abroad,” al-Sheikh said in a phone interview from Turkey. The general said he has been going back and forth to Syria.

Activists say nearly 30,000 people have been killed since Syria’s crisis began in March 2011. The uprising began with largely peaceful protests against Assad’s regime, but has since morphed into a civil war in the face of a brutal government crackdown.

The Syrian conflict has increasingly spilled into neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, with several hundred thousand Syrians seeking refuge there and battles occasionally being fought along Syria’s borders.

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