Defector Syrian General Will Be Conduit for U.S. Military Aid to Rebels

(Washington Post) Liz Sly - Now that the U.S. has said it will provide direct military assistance to the rebels, Gen. Salim Idriss, 56, who heads the Supreme Military Council of the fragmented Free Syrian Army, has been anointed as the sole conduit of the weapons. Idriss met in Ankara with U.S. officials over what form the military assistance announced last week would take. Recent advances by forces loyal to President Assad have been facilitated by his allies Iran and Russia, which are providing vast quantities of arms and ammunition, while fighters from Hizbullah are bolstering the ranks of Assad's conventional army, Idriss said Sunday. He said U.S. officials told him that a no-fly zone would be "very difficult" and that they were not prepared to contemplate imposing one. There are questions about how much real authority Idriss wields over the chaotic rebel force, which consists of hundreds of loosely organized fighting units that answer to no one other than their local commanders. Idriss was selected to lead the Supreme Military Council "in part due to his ability to serve as a 'diplomat' for the council," wrote Elizabeth O'Bagy of the Institute for the Study of War. "He was not chosen because of his command of significant ground forces or operational effectiveness."

2013-06-17 00:00:00

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