Syrian rebels rebuff leader's dismissal by high command abroad

By REUTERS
February 19, 2014 18:17

 
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ISTANBUL/BEIRUT - Regional unit commanders of the main Western-backed Syrian rebel faction rejected the dismissal this week of their chief by the group's foreign-based command council and pledged to keep fighting under his command.

Their repudiation of the decision was a further sign of deepening disarray within Syria's fragmented opposition movement that has weakened the nearly three-year uprising against President Bashar Assad.

Jostling for influence between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two major patrons of Assad's civilian and military opponents, has compounded divisions within the opposition. Such factionalism also strengthened Assad in recent US- and Russian-sponsored peace talks between his government and the opposition National Coalition in Geneva that ended without any progress.

The Supreme Military Council of the rebel Free Syrian Army dismissed Selim Idriss on Sunday after a tenure that saw numerous setbacks in the anti-Assad insurgency as well as what opposition sources said were rising tensions between him and the National Coalition's Saudi-backed chief.

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