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Thu May 23, 2013 5:44PM
Brigadier General Salim Idris, the so-called Free Syrian Army’s Chief of Staff

Brigadier General Salim Idris, the so-called Free Syrian Army’s Chief of Staff

Idris had previously called on Washington to deliver 700 tons of arms to the militants every week over the next month."
The top commander of foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government says the militants have received a 35-ton arms shipment from Saudi Arabia. Brigadier General Salim Idris, the chief of staff of the so-called Free Syrian Army, said on Thursday that the consignment will help armed men in their battles against the Syrian Army. He added, however, that the munitions are not advanced and sophisticated enough to enable the militants defeat Syrian government forces. The general noted, in particular, that the weapons will not be able to overpower tanks and planes in the strategic town of al-Qusayr, which is situated about 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of the western city of Homs. Idris further stated that he will not attend the upcoming Geneva conference on Syria unless the United States and its allies provide the militants in Syria with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. He acknowledged that the Syrian anti-government gunmen are weak on the ground, saying it would not be fruitful for them to step into peace negotiations with the Damascus government at the moment. On May 7, Russia and the United States agreed in Moscow to hold an international conference on Syria, which will serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012. The new event is reportedly expected to take place in early June this year. Idris had previously called on Washington to deliver 700 tons of arms to the militants every week over the next month. Turmoil has gripped Syria since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian security forces, have been killed in the unrest. The Syrian government maintains that the chaos in the country is being orchestrated from outside and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals. MP/KA/HMV