A statement by the FSA's Supreme Military Council said it replaced
General Selim Idriss, who had served in the Corps of Engineers of
Assad's army, with Colonel Abdelilah al-Bashir, head of FSA
operations in the province of Qunaitera on the border with the
Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The decision was prompted by "the ineffectiveness of the command in
the past few months... and to provide leadership for military
operations against the criminal regime and its allies from terrorist
organizations," said the statement.
The announcement was made on Sunday after a Supreme Military Council
meeting in Turkey attended by Asaad Mustafa, defense minister in a
provisional government set up by the opposition last year, the
Dissident rebels have long been wary of accepting leadership by
Idriss, who has spent most of his time outside Syria since helping
create the Supreme Military Council in December 2012.
During his tenure, the FSA suffered major setbacks.
Loyalist forces backed by Shi'ite fighters from Iran, Iraq and
Hezbollah regained strategic territory in the province of Homs in
the centre of the country and expanded a buffer zone around
Damascus, where most elite troops, mostly comprised of Assad's
minority Alawite sect, are based.
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Al-Qaeda-linked groups also emerged as a potent force on the ground,
and several Islamist brigades broke off from the FSA, helping create
the Islamic Rebel Front, which overshadowed the FSA militarily.
A statement by the opposition National Coalition, which has embarked
on U.S.-and Russian-sponsored peace talks with Assad's government to
end the three-year civil war, said news of Bashir's appointment came
as a "relief".
The coalition's delegation added several FSA commanders to its
negotiating team in the second round of peace talks, which concluded
on the weekend in Geneva without any significant results.
(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom;
editing by Eric
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