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‘More militant and Islamized’ Syrian rebels shifting to guerrilla ops (WORLD TRIBUNE) WASHINGTON 03/21/12)Source: http://www.worldnewstribune.com/2012/03/21/more-militant-and-islamized-syrian-rebels-shifting-to-guerrilla-ops/ WORLD TRIBUNE WORLD TRIBUNE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
WASHINGTON — The Syrian opposition, defeated several times by President Bashar Assad’s military, intends to reorganize in what is expected to result in new leadership.

The opposition was to reassess policy and its leadership at a meeting in Turkey on March 22.

Joshua Landis, a U.S. professor and director of SyriaComment, said that opposition leaders would embrace the Sunni revolt against the Assad regime. Landis, regarded as close to the State Department, said the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Syrian National Council was undergoing a “period of soul searching and transformation” in wake of the defeats in Homs and Idlib.

“Opposition leaders on the ground, those who are actually fighting the regime, have already become more militant and Islamized,” Landis said. “If the SNC doesn’t scramble to catch up, it will become irrelevant.”

Landis outlined Syrian opposition strategy as maintaining guerrilla warfare in an attempt to place Assad’s forces on the defensive. This would include bombings, assassinations and abductions of those aligned with the regime. At a later stage, he said, the rebels could assault Assad’s military and security forces and try to capture parts of Syria.

“The Syrian opposition prematurely tried to hold territory and take on the Syrian Army,” Landis said. “This was a bad and costly mistake.”

“There is no council,” Kamal Labwani, an SNC leader who quit in mid-March, said. “It’s an illusion.”

SNC has been criticized for the defeat of the rebels in such provinces as Homs and Idlib in March. The council has been accused by critics as autocratic and refusing to build a coalition with secular or liberal opposition groups.

SNC chairman Burhan Ghalioun is expected to be the casualty of the new opposition strategy. Ghalioun and his allies in the council opposed the militarization of the civilian drive against Assad, particularly the Free Syrian Army.

A high-level Syrian defector, identified as Abdul Majid Barakat, has disclosed official documents that reflect Assad’s anxiety over the revolt. The documents, relayed to Qatar’s A-Jazeera satellite channel, included directives to security forces to crush protests in Aleppo, Damascus and Idlib as well as measures to stop defections.

“However security chiefs paint a beautiful picture in their reports,” Barakat said. “They ignore many substantial facts on the ground simply to boost the president’s morale.”

Farid Ghadry, head of the Reform Party in Syria, agreed. Ghadry cited reports of Russian special operations forces being sent to Syria in late March as rebel forces attacked Aleppo and Damascus. Russian sources said the Kremlin was seeking to protect its estimated 200,000-member community in Syria.

“With all these events taking place so suddenly, would it be safe to assume that something extremely important has just happened in Damascus?” Ghadry asked. “Since when does Russia care about its people to send special forces to protect them? Something is really up in Damascus, and if I have to make a bet, it must be regime supporters flipping against their boss.” (Copyright © 2012 East West Services, Inc. 03/21/12)

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