Farid al-Qasim, the new commander of the Maghawir al-Thawra faction, has made several changes since he took over this position under the auspices of the “international coalition” forces. These modifications included renaming the faction as the Free Syrian Army, which raised question marks — especially as it coincides with the United States’ growing presence in Syria.
In this context, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar quoted its sources as saying that this change is the first step towards increasing U.S. support for the group. The newspaper noted that the Free Syrian Army is preparing to receive more fighters following a fresh budgetary allocation for this purpose. The allocation was discussed at length by a delegation of the ” international coalition,” which was led by Joint Task Force’s commander, U.S. General Matthew MacFarlane. The general has held several meetings with Free Syrian Army commanders over the past two days, during which it was agreed that the group’s headcount would be increased in stages. At each stage, new fighters would be trained to ensure their readiness, before moving on to the next stage.
The sources said that Washington wanted to increase the group’s fighters by at least 2,000 before redistributing them to battalions with a unified command. This would ensure the fortification of the “international coalition’s” base in al-Tanf, the largest and most important U.S. base in Syria.
The sources added that increasing the group’s number of fighters would accompany military exercises. The topics will include methods and tactics to counter missile attacks and suicide bombings, which have recently returned as an escalating concern. The exercises will also include strategies for fortifying and defending oil reserves. It is noteworthy that, according to Al-Akhbar, the relevant base is relatively far from the Syrian oil sites controlled by the United States in northeastern Syria.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.