Questions over FSA Damascus strategy after govt. operation in southern suburbs leaves hundreds dead


April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013 

By Nuha Shaaban and Ahmed Kwider

0422WesterARSyria’s Local Coordination Councils issued an impassioned statement calling on the FSA to protect civilians Monday after a government assault over the weekend in Jdeidat al-Fadl and Artouz which left up to 566 dead in the southern approaches to the capital.

In an apparent rebuke to the strategy and effectiveness of the FSA in the field, the civilian opposition body called on armed rebels “to improve their coordination and cooperation so as to increase the likelihood of success of military operations against regime forces.”

According to Sham News Network, the FSA abandoned the two neighboring towns 10km south of the capital on Friday because they had depleted their ammunition.

The statement reiterated a call to the “armed resistance that their priority must be to protect civilians in conflict zones.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that regular forces took Jdeidat al-Fadl and its surrounding area Sunday.

Monday’s statement from the Local Coordination Councils also called on the international community “to assume their legal and ethical responsibilities as the Syrian regime continues to commit crimes against humanity, and to take serious steps to stop these massacres.”

“The FSA cannot protect itself and it was wrong to enter the city of Jdeidat al-Fadl, because it is under siege and there are many Christian loyalist committees there,” said Ayham al-Dimashqi, a 22-year-old engineering student who volunteers technical support for opposition groups.

Al- Damashqi believes that the government has successfully drafted these local Christian groups into a divide and conquer sectarian strategy.

While critical of the FSA deployment in indefensible positions, Dimashqi echoes the sentiment of the LCC’s Monday statement blaming the continued killing of civilians on the lack of international support for the revolution.

“The reason behind the failure is that there is no air embargo,” he stated.

Yaser a-Duman, a LCC member in the northeast suburbs of the capital disputed assertions that the armed opposition is somehow responsible for the devastating outcome in Jdeidat al-Fadl and Artouz.

“The FSA did not enter the civilian areas or hide among the internally displaced refugees, they were trying to protect them from an attack,“ claimed a-Duman who said he was in communication with his comrades in southern suburbs.

“When the bombing started, the FSA declared it was withdrawing from the area, even though they weren’t there in significant numbers, so that the regime would not have an excuse to attack the city.”

 Additional reporting by Jacob Wirtschafter

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