Fulya Ozerkan, AFP
Last updated: 27 July, 2012

Rebel general calls for Syria interim government

A former Syrian general who is now trying to plot the downfall of the Assad regime from a refugee camp in Turkey has called for an inclusive interim government to avert a descent into all-out civil war.

“The way out of the current crisis is the formation of an interim government that includes all ethnic groups in Syria and that works in coordination with the military council,” Brigadier General Fayez Amr told AFP.

Amr is a member of the military council made up of Syrian army deserters who are staying in Apaydin camp in southern Turkey’s Hatay province, some four kilometres (two and a half miles) from the border.

Turkey has provided sanctuary to deserting senior army officers who are working with the rebel Free Syrian Army to encourage mass defections to its ranks.

Turkish officials say 27 defected generals and their families are currently staying in the camp. The government has barred access to the camp for journalists, blocking any interviews with the rebels.

The deserters prefer speaking to the media by telephone or Skype.

In a telephone interview, Amr complained of lack of unity within the Syrian opposition.

“Let’s not deceive ourselves. I cannot see any unity among Syrian opposition factions,” the general told AFP.

“There is no unity within the Free Syrian Army, nor within the Syrian National Council.”

As the fighting in Syria has intensified since a bomb attack this month that killed the regime’s key security aides, fears are rising over the lack of agreement among opposition factions on leadership for a transitional government that could be a credible alternative to President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian National Council (SNC) has so far acted as the international face of the revolution, but it has been unable to unite dozens of disparate rebel factions.

“We established the higher council with the army defectors in Turkey, but this council has not received adequate support from the SNC,” Amr said.

The defector also sounded cautious despite reports that rebel forces were advancing in Syria’s northern city Aleppo to counter regime forces after seizing several border posts along the Turkish frontier.

“The revolutionaries have made advances on the ground, but we should not forget how merciless the regime is and what heavy weaponry it possesses,” Amr said.

“Even though 70 percent of Aleppo was captured by the revolutionaries, there are ongoing massacres in other cities.”

The general accused the regime in Damascus of stirring an ethnic war and slammed the international community for its failure to adopt a serious stance to stop the bloodshed.

When asked by AFP, Amr declined to comment on how they spend their time in the camp but thanked the Turkish government for its hospitality.

“But I have one complaint about Arab governments. No official has visited us thus far,” he said.