AMMAN Dec 8 Syrian rebel groups have chosen
Brigadier Selim Idris, a former officer in President Bashar
al-Assad's army, to head their new Islamist-dominated military
command, opposition sources said on Saturday.
Idris, whose home province of Homs has been at the forefront
of the Sunni Muslim-led uprising, was elected by 30 military and
civilian members of the joint military command after talks
attended by Western and Arab security officials in the Turkish
city of Antalia.
"Saleh is not ideological, but he has been appointed top
aides who are close to Salafist rebels," one of the sources who
has been following the meeting said.
The joint command named Islamist commanders Abdelbasset
Tawil from the northern province of Idlib and Abdelqader Saleh
from the adjacent province of Aleppo to serve as Idris's
deputies, the source said.
The unified command includes many with ties to the Muslim
Brotherhood and to Salafists, who follow a puritanical
interpretation of Islam. It excludes the most senior officers
who had defected from Assad's military.
Its composition, estimated to be two-thirds from the Muslim
Brotherhood and its allies, reflects the growing strength of
Islamist fighters on the ground and resembles that of the
civilian opposition leadership coalition created under Western
and Arab auspices in Qatar last month.
Absent from the group is Colonel Riad al-Asaad, founder of
the Syrian Free Army and Brigadier Mustafa al-Sheikh, a senior
officer known for his opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Asaad and Sheikh were not part of the 263-man meeting in
Antalia. Also excluded was general Hussein Haj Ali, the highest
ranking officer to defect from the military since the uprising
erupted in March last year.
Security officials from the United States, Britain, France,
the Gulf and Jordan have been attending the talks, which come
days before a conference of the Friends of Syria, a grouping of
dozens of countries that have mostly pledged non-military aid to
rebels fighting to oust Assad.