Saturday 16 December 2017

Syria rebels reject opposition coalition

Free Syrian Army fighters rest among debris in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district
Free Syrian Army fighters rest among debris in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district
A damaged building is pictured in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Molhem Barakat (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
A view shows graffiti on a damaged house in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district September 24, 2013. The Arabic words read, "I am a soldier in the path of Allah. And you (the regime) are the soldiers of the dog of Iran" (R) and "Tomorrow is ours" (L) . REUTERS/Molhem Barakat (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
A view from a damaged window shows the center of Homs city September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Yazen Homsy (SYRIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
A Free Syrian Army fighter sits guard along street in Homs September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Yazen Homsy (SYRIA - Tags: CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST)
A Free Syrian Army member walks along a temporary bridge, made from wire mesh, pipe and ropes, in Homs September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Yazen Homsy (SYRIA - Tags: CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST)
A view shows damage center of Homs city September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Yazen Homsy (SYRIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
Smoke rises from a fire in a building controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after an attack by Free Syrian Army fighters in Al-Amiriya in Aleppo September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah (SYRIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
Free Syrian Army fighters look through a hole in the wall of a building in Al-Amiriya in Aleppo September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah (SYRIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
Smoke rises from a building controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after it was attacked by Free Syrian Army fighters, in Al-Amiriya, Aleppo September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
A Free Syrian Army fighter sits in shooting position in Old Aleppo, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
A Free Syrian Army fighter sits in shooting position in Old Aleppo, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
A Free Syrian Army fighter rests with a child in Old Aleppo, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
A Free Syrian Army fighter dresses his fellow fighter's wounded hand in Old Aleppo, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
Free Syrian Army fighters rest in Old Aleppo, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
A Free Syrian Army fighter uses an improvised slingshot to launch a hand grenade in the direction of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al- Assad in Old Aleppo, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shake hands after conducting a bilateral meeting during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
A Free Syrian Army fighter takes a shooting position in Old Aleppo, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie (SYRIA - - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)

A group of powerful rebel units have rejected the authority of the Western-backed Syrian opposition leadership abroad.

They have called for it to be reorganised under an Islamic framework, according to a video statement posted on the internet.

At least 13 rebel factions were said to have endorsed the statement, including the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and the powerful Islamist battalions Ahrar Asham and the Tawheed Brigade.

"These forces feel that all groups formed abroad without having returned to the country do not represent them, and they will not recognise them," said an elderly man reading the statement on film.

"Therefore the National Coalition and its transitional government led by Ahmad Tumeh do not represent it and will not be recognised."

Since the 2-1/2-year revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began, Syria's opposition forces have been riven with factionalism and rivalries. There have also been tensions between Islamist groups and those that support a secular vision for a post-Assad Syria.

Islamist forces have grown in power since the transformation of the rising from a peaceful protest movement into an armed insurgency combating a fierce crackdown by the government.

"These forces call on all military and civilian forces to unite under a clear Islamic framework based on Sharia law (Islamic law), which should be the sole source of legislation," the statement said.

The man reading the statement was not immediately identifiable to Reuters, but the video was posted on several of the social media pages belonging to groups said to have signed on to it, such as the Tawheed brigade.

Whatever their ideological background, many Syrian opposition groups inside Syria are sceptical and resentful of the Western and Gulf Arab-backed National Coalition, an umbrella organisation for opposition groups abroad.

Critics accuse it of not being transparent with funding and its political processes and of being out of touch with those living inside Syria, where more than 100,000 people have been killed and swathes of territory have been destroyed by combat and shelling.

Reuters

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