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Syrian Free Army Rebels in Aleppo (AP)
Syrian Free Army Rebels in Aleppo (AP)

Syrian Rebels Command move in to Syria

(DP-News - agencies)
SYRIA- The leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army said Saturday they moved their command center from Turkey to Syria with the aim of uniting rebels and speeding up the fall of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

FSA head Riad al-Asaad made the announcement in a video posted online on Saturday.

"We tell all of you that the leadership of the Free Syrian army has entered into the liberated areas," al-Asaad said.

He didn't say precisely where the command will have its base. But rebels have been taking control of territory

The next step, he said: "Start the plan to liberate Damascus soon."

In turn, Brig. Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, who heads the FSA's Military Council, told The Associated Press that the group made the move last week. He would not say where the new headquarters is located or give other details.

Al-Sheikh said moving the command "will speed up the fall of the regime because it will give a big boost to the morale of rebels and there will be a command to follow-up on operations."

"There are liberated areas now and it's better for the command to be with the rebels instead of being abroad," al-Sheikh said in a phone interview from Turkey. The general said he has been going back and forth to Syria.

Over the months, the FSA leadership had been based in Turkey, making it tough to coordinate with rebel brigades across Syria.

Press reports indicated on Saturday that despite the announcement of the command move, rebels still have to rely on Turkey as a rear base for supplies and reinforcements. In the past few months, rebels have captured wide swaths of Syrian territory bordering Turkey, along with three border crossings, allowing them to ferry supplies and people into Syria.

Activists say nearly 30,000 people have been killed since Syria's crisis began in March 2011. The uprising began with largely peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, but has since morphed into a civil war in the face of a brutal government crackdown.
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