Daily Israel Report

New Head of Syrian Opposition Offers Assad a Truce

Ahmad Jarba, the new president of the Syrian National Coalition, has offered a ceasefire during the month of Ramadan.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/8/2013, 6:46 AM

Syrian rebels patrol in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur
Syrian rebels patrol in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur
AFP photo

Ahmad Jarba, the new president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, has offered President Bashar Al-Assad a ceasefire during the month of Ramadan.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency a day after being elected to replace Moaz al-Khatib, who resigned several months ago, Jarba offered Assad's forces a truce for the duration of the holy month of Ramadan to stop fighting in the besieged city of Homs, where rebels face a ferocious ground and air onslaught by Assad’s troops who are backed by Hizbullah terrorists.

Jarba declared that the opposition will not go to a proposed U.S.-Russian-sponsored peace conference in Geneva unless its military position becomes strong.

"Geneva in these circumstances is not possible. If we are going to go to Geneva we have to be strong on the ground, unlike the situation now, which is weak. We cannot go to Geneva unless we are strong," Jarba told the news agency.

He added that he expected advanced weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia to reach rebel fighters soon and change their military situation, which he described as weak.

There has been growing pressure to arm the Syrian rebels, particularly since the U.S. government confirmed that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel forces on multiple occasions, thus violating the “red line” set by President Barack Obama.

The U.S. said at the time that it will increase the “scope and scale” of its assistance to rebels in Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.

Rebels have already said they had received Russian-made “Konkurs” anti-tank missiles supplied by Saudi Arabia. Recent reports said that the Central Intelligence Agency has begun moving weapons to Jordan from a network of secret warehouses and plans to start arming small groups of vetted Syrian rebels within a month.

There is concern in the West, however, over the fact that the rebels include radical, jihadist groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, which has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Al-Nusra is one of 13 factions in the radical Islamist rebel council that announced its secession from the main opposition force and declared its own Islamic state in Aleppo. Members of the group have performed atrocities during the ongoing civil war, including publicly beheading a Catholic priest who was accused of collaborating with the Assad regime.

Meanwhile, local infighting between Islamist rebel factions – and between the jihadists and the more moderate opposition forces – has begun in Syria.