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NATO-backed Syrian rebels fire military commander after major reverses

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WEB Notes: It would appear the plan by the rebels for a spring offensive against Damascus is moving forward…

(World Tribune) – The Western-backed rebel coalition, accusing him of incompetence, has fired its military commander. The Supreme Military Council (SMC) of the Free Syrian Army has dismissed commander Gen. Salim Idriss.

SMC, backed by Arab and NATO states, said Idriss, who defected from the Syrian military, would be replaced by FSA operations chief Col. Abdul Lilal Al Bashir.

“This was due to the ineffectiveness of the command over the past few months,” SMC said.

In a statement on Feb. 16, SMC confirmed rising criticism against Idriss. The council, formed in 2012, said Idriss failed to provide leadership “for military operations against the criminal regime and its allies from terrorist organizations.”

The dismissal, decided during a meeting in Turkey, came in wake of the elimination of FSA in northern Syria. Opposition sources said FSA, including Idriss, was driven out of its last strongholds along the Syrian border with Turkey in late 2013 by Al Qaida’s Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. Most of the FSA weapons and facilities were said to have been taken by the Saudi-sponsored Islamic Front.

Idriss was said to have lacked the operational experience sought by Sunni rebels. His last post in the Syrian Army was in the non-combat Corps of Engineers, and during his tenure he was hardly seen in Syria. The sources said the rebel defense minister of the Syrian opposition, Mustafa Awad, had
insisted on Idriss’ resignation.

Al Bashir also served in the Syrian Army until he defected in 2012. In FSA, Al Bashir, whose son was killed in battle in 2014, had been responsible for rebel forces in the southern Syrian province of Quneitra, near the border with Israel.

The statement said SMC would also restructure its General Staff. One appointment was that of Col. Haitham Obeisa as deputy chief of staff of the FSA.

“In the interest of the Syrian revolution and because of the difficult conditions, it was decided to restructure the General Staff,” the statement said. – World Tribune: NATO-backed Syrian rebels fire military commander after major reverses

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