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Syria rebel chief's sacking sparks dissent.

The sacking of Syria's rebel chief Selim Idriss has prompted criticism by several armed opposition groups, in a fresh sign of growing disarray among rebel ranks. The Free Syrian Army's Higher Military Council replaced General Idriss as its chief with Brigadier General Abdel Ilah al-Bashir on Sunday, citing the "difficulties faced by the Syrian revolution" in its battle with the regime. But several rebel leaders have lashed out at the move, with some branding it an undemocratic "coup". "We consider the removal of... Idriss an invalid, illegitimate decision," said a statement issued by all five top field commanders of the FSA's Supreme Military Council, which Idriss had led from December 2012. In their statement, the commanders vowed to continue fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime "under the leadership of General Selim Idriss" who was "elected democratically". Idriss had been voted in by military councils on the ground. Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, a well-connected rebel in Syria said Idriss' removal was decided in a "secret meeting" by the Higher Military Council, which many key rebels have abandoned in recent months. "Regardless of Idriss' shortcomings, this is a military coup," said the rebel. "The main problem is: why weren't all the military councils called in to vote?" Idriss had long faced criticism by rebels on the ground for failing to gather sufficient military aid for the opposition. Also speaking on condition of anonymity, a FSA source on Wednesday blamed the shortcomings of Idriss' leadership on international backers of the revolt, which have mainly directed military aid directly to factions fighting on the ground rather than to Idriss. "General Selim Idriss did everything he could to strengthen the (FSA)... The Supreme Military Council has in the past year received only $3 million in assistance" from backers of the anti-Assad revolt, said the source. This was in addition to "some assistance from a Western country, which then stopped," the source added, without naming the country. More than 140,000 people have been killed in Syria's war, and millions more displaced.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Feb 19, 2014
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