Thursday 1 March 2012

Syrian airports said to be in SFA gunsights

Brig. Hossam Awak (Photo from Asharq Alawsat) 
Syrian airports will be targeted and closed by the opposition Syrian Free Army (SFA) before long, according to the SFA’s chief of military operations.

Brig. Hossam Awak, who served with the Syrian regime’s Air Force Intelligence before defecting tells the Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat in an exclusive interview: “We have sleeping cells strewn across Damascus ready for action… We will soon be carrying out operations in Damascus. We will also be closing the airports in Syria before long.”

Awak, who was interviewed for the newspaper by Amro Ahmad during a stopover in Cairo, said an Iranian armored brigade and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters are deployed in Syria to help quell the yearlong uprising.

“We have on Syrian territory a full armored brigade from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It is positioned in the camps of (PFLP-GC leader) Ahmad Jibril on the way to Deir El-Ashaer area near the Lebanese-Syrian border. This is being disclosed for the first time. The armored brigade was stationed there in 2007 in the wake of Hezbollah’s (2006) war with Israel.”

Awak said Hezbollah has so far committed three battalions to fight on the ground alongside the regime.

On Iraq, Awak said: “Candid information from Iraqi Kurdistan shows they sympathize with the Syrian revolution. Where the Nouri al-Maliki government is concerned, we honestly don’t know its stance. It seems to be a government that toes Iran’s line. But there hasn’t been any hostile attitude (towards the Syrian revolution). And even though they follow Iran, we hope they understand our situation since they also suffered under Saddam Hussein and the Baath regime.”

Awak went on, “Incoming Iraqi Shiite fighters are dealt with before arriving in Syria. We warn them for the umpteenth time: don’t meddle in Syrian affairs.”

Awak revealed the SFA received arms from Libya for a while, but this stopped because of Libya’s internal problems, adding: “I visited a number of the Gulf countries… where we were promised aid, but there is nothing new as yet. We’re waiting.”