World Bulletin/News Desk
The Syrian National Council president has said western air strikes against the ISIL are undermining anti-Syrian regime forces.
Hadi al-Bahra told the British daily The Guardian that airstrikes against groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel forces as well as ISIL were weakening support inside Syria for "non-extremist" opposition groups.
"The coalition is fighting the symptom of the problem, which is Isis, without addressing the main cause, which is the regime," Al-Bahra said.
"People see coalition planes hitting Isis targets but turning a blind eye to Assad’s air force, which is using barrel bombs and rockets against civilian targets in Aleppo and elsewhere," he said.
“People feel there is a hidden agenda and cooperation between the coalition and Assad’s forces because Assad assumes he has a free hand … Syrian public opinion is a front which we need to win,” he warned.
Bahra made his comments before attending a meeting of the 11-nation Friends of Syria forum in London late on Monday.
“The FSA (Free Syrian Army) is being ignored completely and this is weakening the international coalition operation because it is not able to achieve results on the ground,” he said.
“The whole operation has been confused. Air strikes will not be able to win the battle against extremism. You have to defeat Isis on the ground. And you have to deal with the main cause and source of extremism, which is the regime itself,” Bahra added.
"Isis works under one command and with a clear ideology," he said.
The FSA has lost ground to other groups including ISIL over the past year and has seen defections from its ranks to other rebel groups, some of which the West considers to be "terrorists".
“Aid to the FSA was delivered to battalion commanders so fighters got sick and tired of belonging to an individual and not to a united national force which works to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people,” said the opposition leader.
“The lives of Syrians are our top priority but we need to look at this from a strategic point of view," he said.
Bahra voiced his concern about a ceasefire being proposed by the United Nations.
"Cease-fires and limiting existing violence provide a temporary solution, but not a permanent resolution, of the crisis," Bahra said.
"Cease-fires without a clear vision for a full and comprehensive political solution will give the regime time to regroup and reorganize itself to continue its crimes against the Syrian people at a later stage,” he added.
The U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said late on Monday: "Assad can play no future role in Syria. The regime is unwilling and unable to take effective action against ISIL and other extremists."
British lawmakers voted 524 - 43 for air strikes on ISIL targets in Iraq on September 26.
However, the U.K. has said it has no plans to carry out any airstrikes inside Syria.
More than 200,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war and half the population has been displaced.
ISIL has captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, declaring what it calls a cross-border Islamic "caliphate," killing thousands of people and displacing millions in the two countries.
Last Mod: 11 Kasım 2014, 15:07