Syrian rebels plan raids to exploit Western strikes: commander

BEIRUT Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:46am EDT

A Free Syrian Army fighter walks with his weapon on a street in Deir al-Zor August 30, 2013. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

A Free Syrian Army fighter walks with his weapon on a street in Deir al-Zor August 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Khalil Ashawi

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Opposition fighters across Syria are preparing to launch attacks that exploit anticipated U.S.-led military strikes, but there are no plans to coordinate with Western forces, a Syrian rebel commander said on Saturday.

The United States said on Friday it was planning a limited response to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a "brutal and flagrant" chemical weapons attack it says killed more than 1,400 people in Damascus 10 days ago. Washington has five cruise-missile equipped destroyers in the region.

The Syrian government denies using chemical arms.

Qassim Saadeddine, a former Syrian army colonel and spokesman for the rebels' Supreme Military Council, said the council had sent a selection of rebel groups a military plan of action to use if strikes took place.

"The hope is to take advantage when some areas are weakened by any strikes. We ordered some groups to prepare in each province, to ready their fighters for when the strike happens," he told Reuters, speaking by Skype.

"They were sent a military plan that includes preparations to attack some of the targets we expect to be hit in foreign strikes, and some others that we hope to attack at the same time."

The Supreme Military Council is the armed wing linked to the National Coalition, an umbrella group considered to be the opposition's political leadership abroad.

Saadeddine said the plans had been prepared without any help from foreign powers. He said no information had been offered to them by the United States or any other Western countries such as France, which has supported carrying out a strike on Assad.

MILITARY TARGETS

"The United States considers us to be one of the two parties engaged in a civil war, they haven't spoken to the rebel leadership at large, though they have communicated to the political leaders in the Coalition," Saadeddine said. "There may have been consultations with the head of our council, Salim Idriss, but I cannot confirm this."

Syria's two-and-a-half year old conflict began as a peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule but has become a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.

Activists said rockets loaded with poison-gas killed hundreds of people in rebel-held areas outside Damascus, many of them children, on August21. The Syrian government blames rebels fighting to topple Assad for the attack, but Washington says its intelligence shows Assad's forces were responsible.

Saadeddine said his forces assessed that a Western attack would happen in the coming days and would last about three days.

Saadeddine said the rebels liaising with the council had drawn up a list of potential targets for any strike.

"We think it will be something among military sites such as the headquarters of military leadership, military airports, certain weapon storage areas, or launchpads and installations for large missiles such as Scuds," he said.

Other sites seen by rebels as likely targets, Saadeddine said, were those belonging to elite forces believed most loyal to Assad - the Fourth Armored Division and the Republican Guard. The opposition blames those units for playing a role in the poison gas attack.

Other rebels contacted, without links to the council, said they were also trying to prepare for a potential strike, but that they were struggling to come up with a plan of action.

(Editing by William Maclean and Pravin Char)

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Comments (24)
miamidon wrote:
Of course there is coordination.. Enabling these “raids” was the one and only objective to begin with. This sham would be laughable if so many innocent people weren’t paying with their lives…. God help us all.

Aug 31, 2013 7:15am EDT  --  Report as abuse
hairy2xs wrote:
From JOHN CLEESE

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels ..

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be right, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

Regards,
John Cleese ,
British writer, actor and tall person..

Aug 31, 2013 10:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
FreedomFries wrote:
I can’t stop laughing at these propagandists. Who launched the chemical weapons? the rebels shot it at themselves for sympathy? This is your only argument. Not very believable in my opinion.

Aug 31, 2013 10:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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