News / Middle East

Rebels Furious Over Diplomatic Deal on Syria

Free Syrian Army fighters pose for a photograph with their weapons in the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters pose for a photograph with their weapons in the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
Syrian rebels remain furious over a Russian-brokered deal on Syria’s chemical weapons that has averted U.S. strikes on Damascus, saying the gives President Bashar al-Assad a green light to redouble his bombardments of opposition fighters and civilians.

During the weekend, Assad’s jets and artillery resumed heavy shelling of rebel-held areas outside Damascus. The shelling had been halted when it appeared a U.S. strike was likely.

Rebels aligned with the major Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, say the deal does nothing to halt the indiscriminate air attacks and shelling that have left thousands dead.

Rebels say they doubt the Syria government will abide by the deal.

Opposition activists and civilians in rebel-held strongholds are making home-made gas masks from bottles, surgical cotton and coal dust and are trying to secure supplies of  drugs that can be used as antidotes to nerve agents.

Rebel merger

Partly in response to disappointment over the deal, two of the biggest rebel brigades aligned with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army [FSA], Liwa al-Tawhid and Liwa al-Fatah, have agreed to go ahead with a merger.

Their leaders say they now expect no real assistance from the U.S., according to Abu Feras, spokesman for Al-Tawhid.

“The international community doesn’t care what happens to Syria," he said. "If it really did it would have intervened a long time ago. They accuse the regime of crimes against humanity and just talk, as if that would solve anything.”

Commanders say together their unit numbers about 13,000 fighters. Both brigades have been highly active in the city of Aleppo and surrounding towns in the two-and-half-year civil war.

“We need to be united to liberate Syria and all the fighters are demanding we merge,” said Radwan Qarandal of Liwa al-Fatah.

The head of the rebel’s Supreme Military Command, Gen. Salim Idriss, who defected from the Syrian army, brokered the effort.

It is the first big merger in months of loosely aligned FSA rebel brigades, who remain disunited and often at odds with each other.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

Varied opposition

Their disunity stands in marked contrast to the more disciplined al-Qaida affiliates in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the smaller Jabhat al-Nusra.

The UK defense consultancy IHS Jane’s estimates that there are more than 1,000 rebel bands in Syria. As the war has dragged on, allegations of ill-discipline, looting and hostage-taking have dogged the rebels.

Over the weekend, one freed hostage, the Italian journalist Domenico Quirico, warned in an article in La Stampa that the conflict on the rebel side is seeing “the emergence of groups of Somali-style bandits who use an Islamic veneer and the context of the revolution to control pieces of territory, extort money from the population, kidnap people and generally fill their boots.”

Quirico, who was held for 150 days and released last week, said he was taken hostage by a group linked with Al-Farouk, a well-known rebel brigade aligned with the Syrian National Council.

The brigade was implicated last year in the abduction of more than a dozen Lebanese pilgrims in Syria. The Italian journalist said the revolution has “lost its way and become the property of fanatics and bandits.”

You May Like

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: maithe from: Paris, France
September 16, 2013 6:13 PM
So "rebels are furious"!..We, the western countries, should solve all their (and other) problems...That's too much !

I'm asking : what the Arab League is doing to help them?
Why the Arab League is so silent and syrian (or not syrian) rebels are not "furious" ?....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs