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Opposition seeks to unite turf, create statelet in Latakia

GO LOCAL: Civil and military opposition forces in the regime […]

18 March 2015


GO LOCAL: Civil and military opposition forces in the regime stronghold of Latakia announced the formation of a ruling council on Tuesday intending to govern disparate rebel-held towns in the coastal province.

The Latakia Shura Council “is the first committee of its kind that unites all civil and military opposition forces in Latakia,” Ahmed Bakri, a citizen journalist based in the Latakia countryside told Syria Direct on Wednesday.

“The goal is to hold elections for local administrative councils that have pledged allegiance to the council that cooperate with armed brigades operating on the ground,” Bakri said.

The council says it will hold elections in areas it controls within one week, according to council member Mohammad Rajbu, who read the announcement in a video posted on YouTube by the Salma Media Center.

“The council was created by locals, for locals,” Rajbu said, alluding to prior failed attempts to form a governing council in Latakia led by opposition factions not from the province.

Rebels led by Al-Jabhat a-Shamiya control a series of Sunni-majority villages scattered across the north Latakia countryside. Many of these villages are separated from each other by regime-controlled territory.

Four armed brigades, including Al-Jabhat a-Shamiya, were listed as participants in the council.

“The council was created to finish and carry out the work of another committee created six months ago by the Turkey-based [opposition-in-exile] National Coalition,” Mustafa al-Haj al-Bakri, another council member, told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

“The Coalition committee’s mandate was to organize revolutionary activity in Latakia, however they were unable to organize and carry out elections or coordinate with local militias because none of their members was based in the country,” he added.

Opposition forces briefly took over the Kasab border crossing with Turkey in the north Latakia countryside in March 2014 which led to intense fighting before the crossing was retaken in June.

-March 18, 2015

-Photo courtesy of Salma Media Center

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