FSA received arms that could ‘change the course of the battle’

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Syrian rebels have recently received new weapons that could "change the course of the battle" against the Syrian regime, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army told Al Arabiya TV on Monday.

“We have received the first shipment of weapons two days ago, following pledges by several countries, especially the United States,” FSA political and media coordinator Louay Muqdad said.

“The source of these weapons was some sister countries and other countries who made pledges,” Muqdad added.

Muqdad said a comprehensive plan to arm the Syrian rebels will be unveiled on Sunday in Doha during the Friends of Syrian meeting.

"It is a matter of days before we receive other weapons, as we were promised…and the military support will continue to flow as long as the weapons are used in a disciplined way,” Muqdad said.

In other statements to AFP, Muqdad said the weapons received “will change the course of the battle on the ground.”

Al Arabiya television quoted a source close to the FSA earlier saying the rebel army received the Russian-made “OSA” air defense system. Muqdad refused to name the source of the weapon, but said the FSA consists mainly of defected Syrian soldiers who are trained in using Russian-made weapons only.

He said Brigadier General Salmi Idris, leader of the rebels' Supreme Military, has ordered all FSA members to be trained on using more Western-made weapons.

Syrian rebels have been battling forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad for more than two years, with the U.N. saying that at least 93,000 people – mostly civilians – have died in the conflict.

FSA chief Idris has repeatedly appealed for weapons from the international community. In an earlier interview with Al Arabiya, he said that it would take the rebels six months to overthrow the Syrian regime if the U.S. agreed to arm them.

“If we only get some armed support, we will continue to battle for a long time. But if we receive enough training and arms and are well-organized, I think we need about six months to topple the regime,” Idriss said.

Washington said last week that it will provide military aid to the Syrian opposition after it has been concluded that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against the Syrian people and crossed what President Barack Obama had called a “red line.”

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