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Syrian opposition head laments not being Obama Administration’s priority as conflict rages on

November 10th, 2014
04:47 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The President of the Syrian National Coalition expressed his disappointment on Monday that the Obama Administration is not including the country’s opposition in its priorities.

While the current “Administration believes that [Syrian President] Assad will not play any role in the future of Syria,” Hadi al Bahra told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, it is putting far more effort into achieving a nuclear deal with Iran, a close ally of Damascus for decades.

“This Administration, I think, puts much more priority on finalizing its deals on the nuclear program with Iran, and this has number one importance to it, while [the] Syrian people has paid two hundred thousand victims until now, and they see no action from the international community in response to these crimes committed by Assad himself,” al Bahra said.

Amanpour asked the leader of Syria’s moderate opposition when the program to vet, arm and train the country’s moderate rebels, approved by the U.S. Congress in September, was expected to finally get off the ground.

“There is no expected start date before maybe end of February, early March. And this is a very long period to wait.”

“As you know our forces now on the ground [are] fighting [a] two-front war against ISIS and against the regime at the same time. So fighters should be helped more, supplied more, in order to sustain the battle against ISIS and the regime.”

Hadi al Bahra is in London for a Friends of Syria meeting on an invitation from the British government. His three-day visit included a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

“We asked [for] a more active role in the group and train program in researching, reorganizing the Free Syrian Army,” he said, so they can fight more effectively.

The Syrian delegation also told their friends that they are “committed under one plan”, al-Bahra said, which “is called ‘Back to Syria’, where we will shift the position of all the coalition and opposition institutions inside Syrian territories and from there we start governing the areas which are freed from ISIL forces, and provide moderate forces to continue the fight and front against terrorism and against the regime itself.”

President al Bahra also challenged critics who have said the Syrian National Coalition has little influence on what is happening on the ground.

He told Amanpour that he met with “military commanders in Aleppo just [in the] past week. And we have worked our plan and strategy on how to confront the current situation in Aleppo.”

“Past week we held also three meetings with the commanders, main military commanders on the ground with the coalition. There is plenty of programs which are performed inside Syria, the civil defense program, civil police forces who exist inside Syria and Aleppo, Idlib and Lattakia regions.”

“The interim government has its own offices opened inside Syria since four months ago,” he said, adding that they “are planning to move the whole interim government to be inside Syria, the whole coalition to be inside Syria.”

Will he go to Syria when that happens?

“I will be the first to go.”

Click above to watch the full interview.


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