Middle East

FSA commander for Swaida replaced

BEIRUT: The head of the Free Syrian Army for the Druze-majority province of Swaida has been replaced as part of a “reorganization” drive, activists said Sunday.

Col. Marwan al-Hamad has been the target of criticism in recent months because the Revolutionary Military Council for Swaida has been relatively inactive, despite receiving financial and other support from outside backers.

Hamad has also been under fire, sources said, for not delegating tasks and responsibilities to his aides, while the Swaida RMC has undertaken only a tiny number of military actions. Rebel attacks in the governorate of Swaida itself have been extremely rare, as most Druze and other fighters from the province have opted to fight with rebels active in the next-door province of Hawran.

Pro-opposition social media said another defected officer, Col. Salem Saad, had been appointed to replace Hamad, as part of a “reorganization” drive.

“This took place after most rebel formations and individuals of the RMC withdrew from Hamad’s management of the Council ... following internal disputes in which accusations were made against Hamad,” said a statement circulated on social media.

An opposition source told The Daily Star that the Turkey-based leadership of the FSA had agreed to replace Hamad after lobbying by senior Druze rebel defectors and civilian activists.

Signs of the rift between Hamad and opposition factions appeared last month, when a number of civilian activists and rebel representatives met in Jordan to discuss relations between the provinces of Swaida and Hawran.

Hamad issued a statement criticizing the meeting, because his RMC had not received a formal invitation to attend.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 04, 2013, on page 8.

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