The leader of the Free Syrian Army has called on the outside world to back the rebels before they all “turn into terrorists”.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph in his base in rebel-occupied Syria, Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh unveiled a new leadership of the Higher Military Council of the FSA, which he heads.
He also said he welcomed David Cameron’s decision to engage with the rebels and even consider organising arms supplies, but he added that war was spreading to surrounding countries, the rebels were fractured and speed was of the essence.
“If there’s no quick decision to support us, we will all turn into terrorists,” he said. “If you apply the pressure that’s been applied to Syria, it will explode in all directions. Terrorism will grow quickly.”
Gen Sheikh was the first of a number of regime army generals to defect to the rebels, joining Col Riad al-Assad at the head of the FSA. The rebels fighting the battles on the ground though are not only divided among themselves but often refuse to recognise his leadership.
Aware that this is a major reason for the reluctance of Western powers to arm them or encourage their Middle Eastern allies to supply rebel forces, on Friday announced a new unified command structure, dividing Syria into five commands each with a defected general at its head.