Conflict & Justice

Syria's rebels elect new military command; target Damascus airport


Rebel fighters take part in a demonstration against the Syrian regime after the Friday prayer in the al-Fardos neighbourhood of Aleppo on December 7, 2012. Syrian opposition groups had agreed in Doha last month to sink their differences and form a single body in the hope of getting direct aid, including crucial anti-aircraft weapons, to combat President Assad.


Odd Andersen

Syria's rebels announced their newly elected military command Saturday, as fighting continued to rage on near Damascus' International airport.

The airport, which they deemed a "legitimate target" on Friday, is key to the rebels' strategy of cutting off military supplies to Assad's government forces, NBC News reported

“It will be a moral victory, to say the least,” one rebel fighter said about capturing the airport, the New York Daily News reported

The clashes near the airport have already caused the suspension of several flights, and rebels have told civilians that should they enter the area, they do so "at their own risk," Al Jazeera reported

"The regime is fortifying near the airport. This is easing pressure on opposition fighters in rest of the areas around Damascus,” an activist in southern Damascus told Al Jazeera. “This shows that the regime cannot assert control throughout the suburbs and take over major checkpoints."

Meanwhile, the opposition groups have chosen new military leadership, electing former officer in President Bashar al-Assad's army Brigadier Selim Idris to the post of commander, Reuters reported

Islamist commanders Abdelbasset Tawil and Abdelqader Saleh have been chosen to serve as Idris's deputies, according to sources. 

The new command is estimated to be made up of roughly two-thirds of representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, and is a reflection both of the fighters on the ground in Syria and the opposition coalition formed in Qatar last month, according to Reuters. 

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