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Opposition Leaders Slam Islamist Defection

Opposition leaders scrambled to address the Islamists' rejection of the Supreme Military Council leadership
Opposition Leaders Slam Islamist Defection

Opposition political leaders are angry about the decision by 13 fighting groups rejecting the leadership of the Supreme Military Council, and are desperately trying to bend the statement, analysts say.


Ahmed Toumeh, the newly appointed Interim Prime Minister of the Syrian National Coalition government told agencies that he is preparing to issue a statement in response to the 13- strong Islamist defection from the mainstream opposition council.
Hassan Hassan, a Syrian analyst and columnist with 'The National' newspaper in Abu Dhabi, said the Syrian conflict has "just got a lot more complex".


''Not only Syria, but the world around it will pay for leaving this to fester," he said.


George Sabra, the Leader of National Council said he didn't think the 13 groups had "rebelled" against the Coalition, but are seeking "consultation".


Islamists have justified their statement, issued Wednesday, by saying: "We've fought against Assad and sacrificed everything. Yet we started to see Coalition-affiliated groups fighting us.They also agreed to divide Syria (federalism) and to form a government with the regime,'' according to Hassan.


The rebel groups' statement was titled "Communique No. 1," a term used before in Arab countries following military coups that suggests the creation of a new leadership body.


A video released on the Internet showed Abdel-Aziz Salameh, political chief of the Liwaa al-Tawheed brigade that is particularly strong in the city of Aleppo, reading the statement.


Syria's rebel movements vary greatly in their levels of internal organization, and it was not possible to immediately verify whether the other signatories' leader or fighters on the ground had approved the statement. But there were no immediate reports that any of them had rejected it.


The signatories called on all military and civilian forces "to unite under a clear Islamic framework based on Shariah law, which should be the sole source of legislation" — an apparent reference to Al-Qaeda factions' aspiration to create an Islamic state in Syria.


It said the rebels do "not recognize" any future government formed outside Syria, insisting that forces fighting on the ground should be represented by "those who suffered and took part in the sacrifices."


But the rebels themselves are also deeply divided, AP reported, with many groups blaming jihadists and Al-Qaeda militants in their ranks for the West's reluctance to intervene militarily in Syria or give them the advanced weapons they need. There is also growing concern that the dominant role the extremists are playing is discrediting the rebellion.


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer


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