Rebel groups in southern Syria have reached an agreement to form a united military command after major consultations and negotiations between rebel leaders, Alsouria Net has learned.
Military sources in southern rebel groups — who asked not to be named — provided details of the agreement, saying that the First Revolutionary Meeting which was held by rebel groups and civilian actors in southern Syria in October played a major role in achieving the united command, under the name of the “Syria Partner Forces.”
According to reports, a group of military figures in the southern region met a number of times to discuss the formation of a joint military command for all groups in the countrysides of Daraa and Quneitra, as well as the western countryside of Damascus.
Sources told Alsouria Net that the meetings resulted in the formation of a joint military command representing all the Free Syrian Army groups in the southern region, which will be officially announced at a later date. They added that the new command represents a “body modified from the Southern Front entity, with the base of military representation expanded to include most groups, especially those which are considered the most organized and powerful, such as the First Artillery Regiment and the Youth of Sunna Forces, the Jaish al-Thuwra [Army of Revolutionaries] and the March 18 Division.”
The joint command is being formed, according to the same sources, for the new phase of unified military decision-making at the level of the southern region. This comes after a phase in which visions have multiplied and operations rooms have become fragmented, which weakened the military action of the rebel groups against Assad regime forces, as well as against Jaish Khalid bin al-Walid, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) group and is present in the Yarmouk basin area west of Daraa.
According to the sources, among the priorities of the “new joint military command is to preserve the principles of the Syrian revolution and to play a role in the negotiating process to achieve the interests of the Syrian people.”
Syria Partner Forces
Alsouria Net obtained reports from sources in the Jordanian capital of Amman — who asked not to be named — saying that “the formation of the joint military command in the southern region is the result of internal movements purely of the military figures in the southern region,” adding that supporter countries did not play a hand or intervene.
They indicated that this movement occurred before the cutoff of military support from the Military Operations Center groups. “International coalition forces have begun an operation to organize the desert factions in the Al-Tanf base, which are the Revolutionary Commando Army and the Forces of Martyr Ahmed al-Abdo and the Eastern Lions Army,” the sources said.
The organization process, according to the sources, includes expelling members who are not in line with the groups’ aims, according to the priorities of the international coalition forces.
Among the most prominent missions of the new formation is to carry out the role of protecting displaced camps and the Syrian-Jordanian border from the Al-Tanf camp side. “It will also be ready to carry out other military missions as needed, such as regaining control over the Syrian desert if the international coalition supports that,” said one source from Amman.
Alsouria Net spoke with Saeed Seif, the media spokesman for the Forces of Martyr Ahmed Abdo, who said that they “have not yet been notified” of the coalition forming the desert factions, but added that “if this happens, we don’t have a problem, especially if the army is formed under the international coalition command, as one of its priorities will certainly be to work to fight terrorism and the Islamic State, especially given that we are now in a stage where the cards are mixed, and ISIS is returning to our area in the Syrian desert, and in eastern Suweida and eastern Qalamoun.”
These developments underway in southern Syria are accompanied by anticipation about rumors surrounding efforts to unite the Syrian political opposition at the Riyadh II conference in the Saudi capital this week.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.