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article imageOp-Ed: 13 rebel groups reject western-backed Syrian National Coalition

By Ken Hanly     Sep 25, 2013 in Politics
Damascus - Thirteen of Syria's more radical and powerful rebel groups announced that they do not recognize any foreign-based opposition groups. This includes the main western-backed group the Syrian National Coalition.
The Syrian National Coalition together with its transitional government is recognized as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people by many western and Arab governments. However, the main Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which controls considerable territory in northern Syria also rejected the Coalition, and claimed it was "obedient to Turkey and Qatar". Now a large group of Islamist-oriented rebels have also rejected the Council.
On Tuesday the groups made a joint statement saying:"The National Coalition and the proposed government under [recently chosen] Ahmad Tomeh does not represent us, nor do we recognise it,"
Some of the signatories to the statement are radical groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra that is linked to Al-Qaeda and on the US list of terrorist groups. Another, Liwa al-Tawhid is the main rebel force in northern Aleppo province. However, others are units of the Free Syrian Army which is the main military grouping recognized by the west classified as moderates. The radical but non-jihadist Ahrar al-Sham also agreed to the statement. The groups also demanded that Islamic law be applied in liberated areas: "These forces call on all military and civilian groups to unite in a clear Islamic context that... is based on sharia [Islamic] law, making it the sole source of legislation".
Even though the group called for unity, the statement comes just as there is infighting between groups that often results in violence. The radical ISIL even announced it would "go to war" with other groups in the town of al-Bab in the Aleppo province. Almost a dozen ISIL fighters were killed in another conflict in Hazano over the weekend. In the town of Azaz a truce has temporarily ended fighting. The ISIL is another organizations branded as terrorist by the US. Even the two most radical groups ISIL and Jabhat Al-Nusra have come into conflict with each other.
The Syrian National Council will be the main representative of the rebels at any upcoming peace conference. Even should the group decide to attend and agree to a cease fire many of the rebels on the ground will probably ignore any agreement.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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