Rebel chief: no cooperation with Assad
Syrian rebel General Salim Idriss denied The Times’ report that he would work with Assad’s forces to fight al-Qaeda
Top Syrian rebel General Salim Idriss denied on Wednesday reports that he would join arms with government forces to fight al-Qaeda groups after the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad.
In an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel Idriss denied an earlier report by UK’s The Times quoting him as saying that he was ready to fight side by side with regime forces against radical groups.
“The regime’s army is a traitor and we cannot cooperate with it,” said Idriss, who is the head of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
“I have not made any statements to British newspapers,” he added.
In the purported interview with The Times, Idriss said opposition fighters would battle the al-Qaeda affiliate group named Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL) and the Levant, which he described as “very dangerous for the future of Syria.”
The Times reported that Idriss has warned the ISIL was seeking to gain “complete control over liberated areas.”
“His remarks appeared to indicate a shift in the chaotic dynamics of the civil war, with the FSA setting itself in open opposition for the first time to the growing influence of jihadist groups — a key concern of the West,” according to The Times.
“He softened his demands before peace talks in Geneva planned for next month, saying that Mr Assad’s removal from power was no longer a precondition, but could follow from the negotiations,” The Times said, referring to Idriss.
Idriss, however, denied to Al Arabiya any intention to cooperate with the Assad’s regime but confirmed the part that rebels would be satisfied if Assad’s departure came at the end of the negotiations process.