BEIRUT

Middle East

Decision to sack FSA command reversed

Rebel fighters prepare to launch improvised mortars towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in the town of Morek in Hama province June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Badi Khlif

BEIRUT: A decision by Syria’s opposition government to sack the military command of the rebel Free Syrian Army over corruption allegations has been reversed by the National Coalition chief.

A statement from the opposition government Thursday said its head Ahmad Tohme “decided to disband the Supreme Military Council and refer its members to the government’s financial and administration committee for investigation.”

The government in exile said it was also sacking FSA chief of staff Brig. Gen. Abdelilah al-Bashir.

But hours later, the Syrian National Coalition led by Ahmad Jarba said in a statement the “head of the interim government has exceeded his powers.”

It said it decided to “instruct the General Council to comment on this abuse of power at its next meeting and to take the appropriate action.”

The next General Council meeting will be in Istanbul from July 4 to 6.

“This crisis reflects the conflict in the coalition and is in a regional context. Qatar supports the government of Ahmad Tohme and Ahmad Jarba is close to Saudi Arabia,” a senior coalition official told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

The official said Jarba must stand down at the next council meeting because he cannot serve more than two terms. “He wants to prepare to keep control. It seems he plans to form a High Council of the Syrian Revolution, a military body which he will chair and will have no relationship with the opposition government.”

In order to do so, the official said, Jarba would demand a vote of confidence and a new government chief, and Tohme decided to pre-empt the move.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 28, 2014, on page 10.

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Summary

A decision by Syria's opposition government to sack the military command of the rebel Free Syrian Army over corruption allegations has been reversed by the National Coalition chief.

The next General Council meeting will be in Istanbul from July 4 to 6 .

The official said Jarba must stand down at the next council meeting because he cannot serve more than two terms.

In order to do so, the official said, Jarba would demand a vote of confidence and a new government chief, and Tohme decided to pre-empt the move.


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