Syria rebels want interim government to rule whole country

AFP , Monday 18 Mar 2013

FSA chief of staff Selim Idriss demands an interim government 'for all Syrian territory' in replacement of Al-Assad's ruling regime

Head of the new Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces Mouaz al-Khatib, rear-center, speaks during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, March 2013 (Photo: AP)

Syria's rebel chief said in Istanbul on Monday that the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army wants an interim government to administer the whole of Syria and not just the areas freed from regime forces.

The demand came as the main opposition Syrian National Coalition met in Turkey to select an interim prime minister and government for large swathes of territory in the strife-torn country that have slipped out of President Bashar al-Assad's hands.

"We demand an interim government for all Syrian territory, one that would be the only legitimate government in the country... Any institutions not following this government would be considered to be acting illegitimately and would be prosecuted," Free Syrian Army chief of staff Selim Idriss told AFP.

"Assad's government is an occupation government that has lost its legitimacy," he said.

Asked how an interim government run by opponents would function on the ground, Idriss said: "Institutions in the non-liberated areas would have an opportunity to announce their loyalty to the interim government."

In a press conference later, Idriss said the rebels would respect the government's authority.

"We would support this government and we would work under the umbrella of this government," Idriss told reporters.

Should the 70-odd Coalition members succeed in selecting an interim premier, the rebels would be tasked with ensuring security for the interim government, which is set to be based inside Syria.

"With its limited weapons capacity, the Free Syrian Army can secure the liberated territories against all attacks by the army, except air and missile attacks," Idriss said, reiterating calls to the West to arm the insurgents.

"My message is very clear: we in Syria need weapons and ammunition to fight," said the general. France and Britain have already said they are ready to arm the rebels even without EU consensus.

"We hope that the European countries take the decision to give us weapons and ammunition... We give them all guarantees that these weapons will not fall into the wrong hands or into the hands of extremists."

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