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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid