Syrian rebel commander slams ‘dirty deal’ on chemical weapons

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A Syrian rebel commander criticized on Tuesday a Russian plan for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to avoid a Western military attack as a “dirty deal” and an international maneuver.

“What is happening is an attempt to save Obama from a tree he climbed, after that Russia left him there and took the ladder,” Colonel Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi, a senior commander in the Free Syrian Army, said in an interview with Al Arabiya.

Taking chemical weapons from President Bashar al-Assad “would serve Israel, not the Syrian people,” he said.

“All of this shouting in the international community is because of the chemical weapons and not because of Assad’s atrocities against his people using tanks and rocket launchers,” he added.

Oqaidi urged Syrians to unite around the rebel army and not rely on international support to overthrow the Assad regime.

He rejected any political solution to the crisis before Assad’s departure, saying that a special security body would be formed to fill in an anticipated vacuum after Assad’s ouster.

He blamed the political arm of the Syrian revolution for the lack of coordination with the military arm, questioning the legitimacy of political leaders, who, he said, “represent the countries that nominated them, not the Syrian people.”

The rebel commander played down the presence of foreign fighters in Syria, saying their total number does not exceed 2,000, while the FSA has about 200,000 fighters. He said Syrian Islamist fighters number around 10,000.

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