Middle East

Syrian top rebel commander announces resignation

This YouTube grab shows Col. Abdel-Jabbar Ukaidi, as he announces his resignation Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. (The Daily Star/YouTube grab)

BEIRUT: A leading Syrian rebel commander announced his resignation Sunday, in the wake of battlefield setbacks and infighting among rebel groups.

Col. Abdel-Jabbar Ukaidi, the head of the Aleppo Revolutionary Military Council of the mainstream Free Syrian Army, also had harsh words for the international community and the Syrian opposition-in-exile for failing to offer sufficient support for the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The move comes amid a flurry of discussion and meetings in preparation for a proposed Geneva II peace conference, with the opposition National Coalition continuing to insist on guarantees for Assad’s departure from power. But western countries have been exerting heavy pressure on the Coalition to attend Geneva, a stance that most rebel groups and civilian activists reject.

Ukaidi said the international community had proven that it has been “conspiring against the people and the uprising,” and had even more scathing words for the political opposition based outside the country, as he offered sarcastic congratulations “for your hotels and your political posts.”

“You hardly represent yourselves,” Ukaidi said, saying the politicians were more interested in carrying out foreign agendas rather than seeing to the needs of the Syrian people.

He also blamed a number of rebel leaders for in-fighting and focusing on seizing power in rebel-held areas rather than focusing on the drive to topple the regime, but did not single out particular rebel groups by name.

Ukaidi said he took the decision to resign because of the lack of responses to a flurry of recent calls for inter-rebel unity, “which has led to retreats on various battlefronts, the last one being (the town of) Safira,” southeast of Aleppo.

Government troops last week managed to drive mainstream take the town, which is expected to help re-supply government forces fighting rebels in Aleppo.





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