BEIRUT

Middle East

Syrian rebel chief says abandons uprising

DAMASCUS: A Syrian rebel commander and a group of fighters told an opposition meeting on Wednesday they had decided to abandon the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad and return to the regular army.

"We have decided to return to the army and cooperate with the Ministry of National Reconciliation," said Captain Khaled Abdel Rahman al-Zamel, speaking at a conference organised by opposition groups tolerated by Assad's regime.

He was accompanied by around 10 other former rebels, none of whom spoke out.

"The solution in Syria does not lie in the use of weapons or violence or explosions or the killing of innocents," said Zamel. "We are all Syrians, we reject a revolution that starts with the shedding of blood."

Delegates applauded Zamel as he called on other rebels to abandon the revolt.

"The road is open," said Zamel, who was identified as the head of the rebel Free Syrian Army's leadership in the south of the strife-torn country.

Senior diplomats from Russia, Iran and China, the three states that have most staunchly supported Assad's regime during the 18-month uprising, also attended the gathering.

An AFP journalist at the conference said Zamel's intervention came as a surprise.

Anti-regime activists, meanwhile, questioned his statement, with some suggesting he may have been put under pressure by the authorities and others saying they had never heard of Zamel.

bur-ser/hc

 

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