The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced on Saturday that it has moved its leadership inside Syria for the first time since the uprising began in 2011.
The FSA has based itself in turkey for more than a year as their fighters work to battle forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, reports Reuters.
Now, however, the group’s commander-in-chief announced on Saturday that they are moving leadership to parts of Syria held by the rebels. Despite the fact that the rebels hold large portions of Syria, they still face air and artillery attack from Assad’s loyal forces. Colonel Riad al-Asaad stated in a video that:
“The leadership of the FSA has entered the liberated areas (of Syria) after the success of the plan that the FSA has worked on with other battalions and units in order to safeguard the free areas.”
A rebel source who is close to Asaad stated that the FSA colonel arrived in Syria two days before, adding that the complete move will be made in the next two weeks. The source stated that, “The plan is that all the leadership of the FSA will be based in Syria soon, either in Idlib province or Aleppo province.”
Yahoo! News notes that the Free Syrian Army is the most well-known of several armed groups fighting to overthrow the Assad regime. The FSA colonel added in his video that his men will “fight side-by-side” with all groups, and also plans to take Damascus soon.
Despite their continual call for Assad to step down, the West remains wary of arming the rebel groups. Western diplomats have said that they are waiting until the rebels have a clear chain of command inside Syria.
Activists have said that more than 27,000 people, the majority of which have been civilians, have been killed since the Syrian revolt began 18 months ago. The army in Damascus has been conducting raids in the past few days to drive out rebel fighters.