FSA elements in the Syrian army to secure chemical weapons: rebel leader

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Chemical weapons and armored vehicles were to be secured by Free Syrian Army (FSA) members that still remain in the Syrian regime ranks and have yet to declare their defections, the head of the FSA in the southwestern city of Daraa told Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview.

“The percentage of defections lately has declined, this is because we have asked some Syrian soldiers to stay in the regime’s army, and to cooperate with us to secure our armored vehicles and chemical weapons from falling into the hands of extremist groups,” Ahmed al-Naemah confessed to Al Arabiya’s Rima Maktabi.

Naemah was a colonel in Bashar al-Assad’s army but defected last year.

“We have about five to six brigades [in Syrian army] in Damascus who are working for the FSA,” Naemah added.

Nicknamed as Abu Jassem, the leader said most of FSA’s weapons were obtained after battles with regime forces and did not come from countries that announced their support for the revolution. He said most of the help they had received from those countries so far was merely logistical and financial.

Daraa is the cradle of the Syrian revolution, and Naemah said the FSA chose to take control of it for tactical reasons.

“Tactically we have chosen Daraa and strategically Damascus. The regime will not fall if it is not defeated in Damascus”.

The FSA is fighting a war with an army that is well equipped, but, the commander said the regime’s army gathered its strength from external elements.

“Assad’s forces are diverse. They have lately been joined by militias from Hezbollah and from Maliki in Iraq in addition to Brigade 15 and the Special Forces. There are also the thugs, some of whom are mercenaries and former prisoners that were recruited to fight against us” he told Maktabi.

Naemah said that Assad is trying to take Syria back in time and turn the country into another Somalia.

“They want the country to go back 50 years in time. No army, no infrastructure. If they are compelled to involve Al-Qaeda they will do so to spread chaos, and make Syria like Somalia.”

The leader lost his bother in the two-year war and declared that “Freedom has no price”.

At least 70,000 Syrian have been killed in the conflict which erupted in March 2011.