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Moderate Syria opposition pleads for support, but not troops

September 18th, 2014
02:54 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As the U.S. Congress moves towards authorizing training and weapons for the moderate Syrian opposition, the former commander of the Free Syrian Army pleaded for support but said there was no need for international troops on the ground.

“We don’t need ground troops from any country in the world. We are able, if we receive enough support, to fight against ISIS,” Former Free Syrian Army Commander General Salim Idriss told CNN’S Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“We have a large number of fighters who are ready to fight and more than five thousand now are ready in the suburbs of Aleppo and suburbs of Idlib.”

If the FSA is able to train 5,000 more troops, he said, they would be able to fight both the Assad regime and ISIS.

“The fighters must be trained, because the majority of the fighters are civilian revolutionary forces and they must be trained and fully equipped and they need support.”

Fighting ISIS, of course, is what most concerns the West at the moment, and is the reason why the political tide has turned in America in favor arming the moderate opposition; getting rid of Assad has taken a back-burner.

But Idriss insisted that on the ground, fighting Assad must remain a priority.

“I understand that maybe the friends in the supporting countries, they like that the FSA fighters and those moderate fighters now concentrate fighting against ISIS; but what about Assad regime?”

“The main goal of the Syrian revolution is to collapse the regime. And if we accept now that we are going to fight ISIS, who can ensure us that the regime will not bombard the cities?”

“We won’t and we can’t stop fighting against the regime, because the main problem is the regime in Damascus.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Len McDougall

    History, for the last 3,000+ years, says that this "crisis" cannot be resolved – the combatants on ether side DON'T WANT it to be resolved. Of course, either side will accept billions in US aid, so that hey can behead, burn, stone, and torture to death their opponents. How smart do you need to be to see this?

    September 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  2. akam ali

    O.k US help rebel of Syria but why america no help Kurd in west of Kurdistan that is right this speak .my opinion about this topic america may be not special interest in there .I ask from for america please help Kurd in west of Kurdistan.Kurd defend my people .

    September 19, 2014 at 4:24 am | Reply
  3. Paulo Romero

    There's no sense in arming anybody in Syria. The only way out of this mess would be to negotiate with Assad for the transfer of power to a leader that is acceptable to the moderate opposition and the West. This leader should be somebody that can retain the Syrian Army and integrate it with the moderate opposition groups. The moderate opposition on the ground is at best dubious and at worst of double standards , probably 10% of the fighters actually want this mayhem to stop. The rest would most likely take the money and arms then sell what they can to ISIS or actually join them. In the long term more Western money and arms could actually end up in the hands of Al Qaeda or ISIS. Control on the ground is at best fragmentary and at worst non-existent. Moderate rebel groups don't seem to speak with one voice or have any unity of action. Obama is actually a very weak president. There needs to be a commitment for a limited number of Western troops and troops from the Gulf States on the ground in Iraq at least. At this late stage of his presidency he would rather save his legacy as the "president that ended the wars" rather than the president that "done the right thing". Foreign troops will have to go in to defeat the radicals , if not now maybe next year when they have grown stronger or the year thereafter when there is sufficient political will. The Iraqi Army is weak and once the fighting get's tough in urban areas like Mosul and Fallujah they will stall, simply because they are war-weary and lack morale. ISIS is not a hodge-podge of insurgent groups and ethnic death-squads that pre-dated the 2007 surge , they are unified and battle-tested. There's going to be no Sunni-Awakening this time around as there are no US troops on the ground to ensure that the Iraqi Army and loyal Shiite Militia don't murder and torture in revenge for what happened in June. The Kurds are our best bet , but politically the US has already played the wrong-hand by hanging on to the romantic notion of a unified Iraq without addressing their needs for an Independent country. The best solution for Iraq going forward would actually be a loose federation of Sunni , Shia and Kurdish areas. In the long-run I foresee a Kurdish territory that encompasses both Syrian and Iraqi Kurds. Once the radicals are gone the infighting will start again if people's national interests are not met. The US needs to wake-up and assess what plan best suits it's long term foreign policy and security objectives in the Middle East and clinging to the notion of a unified Iraq with a central government is hopefully not one of them. Also forget Syria as a unified country,this war has sewn too much bitterness and hatred amongst the ethnic groups to last a lifetime.

    September 21, 2014 at 3:03 am | Reply
  4. RLTJ's

    Who is killing who is not really my concern. This talks about President Obama to arm the least of hostile rebels to U.S. interest, is interesting. Is U.S. recognizance of these "moderate" rebels gives them legal international personality?

    Is not arming this Syrian insurgents also arming them against the government of Syria? Cannot Syria accuse the Americans for that at the ICC?

    September 23, 2014 at 12:13 am | Reply
  5. RLTJ's

    I am used to "knowing" everyone inciting and helping everyone to overthrow states. I am used to everybody denying doing them.

    Why did they deny them? Obviously, the answer is because there are legal and moral questions to them.

    At least President Obama is honest to not hide them.

    September 23, 2014 at 12:20 am | Reply
  6. Erm...

    So USA is now committing a blatant act of aggression by bombing another country's sovereign territory without permission and with total disregard for "international law" and CNN is cheering?

    September 23, 2014 at 10:13 am | Reply
    • Erm...

      Maybe you will have your answer there when you ask "why do they hate us" the next time.

      And no, it's not because they are jealous.

      September 23, 2014 at 10:15 am | Reply

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