WASHINGTON – Syria’s opposition forces head, Col. Riad al-Asaad, says his headquarters base has been moved from Turkey into Syria, a development that may lift morale of his forces. But it also opens it up to vulnerabilities and a potential break in coordinating supplies into the country from outside sources, says a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Al-Asaad heads the Free Syrian Army which has been in Turkey since last year. Analysts believe such a move into Syria will bring about better coordination with local militia groups whose leaders have been critical of the leadership in Turkey.
Such a move at this point is more to placate and remain relevant to these local rebel groups, which appear to have their own agenda and have been joined, at least temporarily, by more radical Islamist groups such as Sunni Salafists and al-Qaida with its affiliates and associated radical Islamist groups.
Such a move, however, portends significant risks, at least in the short term.
While the headquarters will be located in rebel-held territory, it still will be vulnerable to air strikes and missile attacks. In operating in Turkey, it didn’t have such an imminent threat.
The opposition leadership’s move to Syria also indicates that it has sufficiently safe areas from which to operate, except for the potential of an air strike or missile attack. It also may have somewhat of a demoralizing impact on the Syrian government. And it will deflect criticism that the opposition is comprised mostly of foreign elements, even though its increasing strength in reality is drawn from them.
However, the Free Syrian Army’s headquarters inside Syria could result in a lack of coordination for supplies coming from foreign supporters who have been providing financial backing and arms, particularly from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These countries have also acted as conduits for arms shipments and intelligence support from countries outside the region as well as Israel, as mounting evidence suggests.
One possibility is that some of the opposition leadership will remain back in Turkey to coordinate the flow of supplies.
Since rebel-held territory backs into Turkey, the flow is expected to continue, but could make Turkey increasingly susceptible to Syrian retaliation through proxies such as the Kurds and Alawites, which are major minority groups in Turkey.
A considerable amount of arms shipments, however, are coming through northern Lebanon into southern Syria. Reliable sources tell WND/G2Bulletin that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah not only is watching these supply routes but has on occasion intercepted such shipments, as well as engaging opposition personnel.
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