Syrian rebels elect head of new military command

AMMAN Sat Dec 8, 2012 9:30pm IST

Related Topics

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian rebel groups have chosen Brigadier Selim Idris, a former officer in President Bashar al-Assad's army, to head their new Islamist-dominated military command, opposition sources said on Saturday.

Idris, whose home province of Homs has been at the forefront of the Sunni Muslim-led uprising, was elected by 30 military and civilian members of the joint military command after talks attended by Western and Arab security officials in the Turkish city of Antalia.

"Saleh is not ideological, but he has been appointed top aides who are close to Salafist rebels," one of the sources who has been following the meeting said.

The joint command named Islamist commanders Abdelbasset Tawil from the northern province of Idlib and Abdelqader Saleh from the adjacent province of Aleppo to serve as Idris's deputies, the source said.

The unified command includes many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Salafists, who follow a puritanical interpretation of Islam. It excludes the most senior officers who had defected from Assad's military.

Its composition, estimated to be two-thirds from the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, reflects the growing strength of Islamist fighters on the ground and resembles that of the civilian opposition leadership coalition created under Western and Arab auspices in Qatar last month.

Absent from the group is Colonel Riad al-Asaad, founder of the Syrian Free Army and Brigadier Mustafa al-Sheikh, a senior officer known for his opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Asaad and Sheikh were not part of the 263-man meeting in Antalia. Also excluded was general Hussein Haj Ali, the highest ranking officer to defect from the military since the uprising erupted in March last year.

Security officials from the United States, Britain, France, the Gulf and Jordan have been attending the talks, which come days before a conference of the Friends of Syria, a grouping of dozens of countries that have mostly pledged non-military aid to rebels fighting to oust Assad. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; editing by Jason Webb)

FILED UNDER:

SAARC Summit

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ferguson Violence

Ferguson Violence

More U.S. troops deployed in Ferguson to guard against fresh riots  Full Article 

Syria Crisis

Syria Crisis

Syrian government air strikes kill 63 in Raqqa - monitoring group  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

U.S. quarantine moves hurting Ebola response in Africa - Harvard  Full Article 

Fat and Cancer

Fat and Cancer

Fat to blame for half a million cancers a year, WHO agency says  Full Article 

Russia Sanctions

Russia Sanctions

Insight - Europe feels sting in the tail of Russia sanctions.  Full Article 

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong student leaders arrested as police clear protest site.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage