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New FSA alliance formed
in southern Syria

The Army of the South brings together 24 rebel factions.

Rebels announce the formation of the Army of the South. (YouTube)

BEIRUT – A new Free Syrian Army coalition has been formed in southern Syria, where the FSA-affiliated Southern Front as well as Islamist rebels have been battling the regime.

 

“The new military formation raises the FSA flag and [shares] its goals of toppling the regime and confronting the Russian occupation as well as all forms of terrorism,” the pro-rebel Baladi News announced Monday morning, days after two dozen factions formed the coalition.

 

In a video statement on October 23, representatives of the FSA-affiliated fighting groups said they had created Jaysh al-Janoub (The Army of the South), which will operate in the Damascus, Rif Dimashq, Quneitra, Daraa and Suweida provinces.

 

“The crisis… has transformed from combatting the dictator to combatting several states, the latest but not the last of which is the brutal Russian enemy, which has encroached upon our skies and killed our children, the elderly and our women,” the Army of the South announced in its opening statement.  

 

The representatives of the new alliance also expressed their conviction that “the regime will not fall unless the capital Damascus is liberated.”

 

The speaker in the video also said that a military command had been formed under an internal political bureau and that a man identified as Mohammad al-Hariri had been elected as its representative inside Syria.

 

He added that the new alliance would be represented outside Syria by “Yamin al-Jawhari, Dr. Jamal al-Ward and Dr. Nasr al-Hariri” and that committees had been formed to manage armament, provision of supplies and other activities.

 

According to the speaker, the new formation’s most important goals and principles are “the toppling of the regime, combatting extremism of all forms, combatting foreign intervention and everyone who helps kill the Syrian people, protecting the remaining institutions and working to administer the country’s resources.”

 

“The Syrians are a single people and are not divided by race,” the statement added. “The army must respect all sects and protect all the components of Syria’s demography.”

 

Another Army of the South video released the same day read out a similar statement, but added that the coalition was composed of 6,000 fighters.

 

The most prominent factions in the alliance, according to Baladi News, include Liwaa Ahrar Houran, The Fourth Artillery Division, Al-Umma Martyrs Brigade, Soldiers of the South Brigade, Al-Mutassim Brigade, The 96th Infantry Brigade, Houran Lions Brigade, Al-Farouk Brigade, Ababeel Houran Brigade, Tafas Martyrs Brigade and Knights of the South Brigade.

 

Southern Front

 

The Army of the South announces its formation. (YouTube)

 

The Army of the South did not mention what ties, if any, it would have with the FSA-affiliated Southern Front coalition that has led rebel campaigns in southern Syria.

 

The Southern Front in recent weeks has faced military setbacks while reports have emerged that it has lost support from foreign states previously backing it.

 

On September 6, Al-Quds al-Arabi said that the US-run Military Operation Center (MOC) based in Jordan had “stopped all financial assistance to the Southern Front for the moment after it failed to take control of Daraa.”

 

The MOC, which is said to be directed by the CIA and a number of Washington’s allies in the region, had been supporting and supervising the FSA-affiliated Southern Front’s campaign in the Daraa province, according to reports.

 

A military source told Al-Quds al-Araby that the MOC had completely opposed the Southern Front’s decision to launch an offensive to seize Daraa city in June, preferring instead that the rebels take control of the strategic Khirbet Ghazaleh area to cut off regime supplies into the province.

 

The Southern Front has ended its campaign to seize Daraa in mid-September after the offensive on the provincial capital became bogged down in heavy back-and-forth fighting.

 

In a statement to anti-Damascus outlet All4Syria, the spokesperson of the rebel coalition said that the “Southern Storm” campaign, which began on June 25, “has ended completely.”

 

“The operations rooms, which were already present in the sectors around the city in the first place, have gone back to keeping a partial and ramshackle watch,” Southern Front spokesperson Ahdam al-Krad said.

 

“There are no meetings by the ‘Southern Storm’ operations room at all,” he added.

 

The Southern Front launched the offensive on Daraa in late June following a series of stunning successes in the southern Syrian province in the spring.

 

The coalition had seized the Nasib border crossing with Jordan in early April and the regime’s 52nd Brigade base northeast of Daraa on June 9.

Rebels announce the formation of the Army of the South. (YouTube)

The regime will not fall unless the capital Damascus is liberated.

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