(MENAFN -Arab News) ISTANBUL: Regional unit commanders of the main Western-backed Syrian rebel faction have rebuffed the dismissal this week of their chief by the group?s foreign-based command council and pledged to keep fighting under his command
The order to remove Selim Idriss was further evidence of damaging splits within Syria?s fragmented opposition movement that have weakened the nearly three-year uprising against President Bashar Assad
On Monday, the Supreme Military Council of the FSA dismissed Idriss after a tenure that saw the faction suffer numerous setbacks
A statement by 22 members of the FSA?s 30-strong military council said the decision was prompted by incompetence in the rebel command and a need to improve leadership of rebel operations
But in a video posted online late on Tuesday, commanders representing relatively secular rebels in Syria?s five main battle theaters denounced the decision and accused officials in the National Coalition of exacerbating rebel divisions
?(We) consider the dismissal of the head of the General Staff, Gen. Selim Idriss, null and illegitimate,? Fateh Hassoun, FSA commander for central Syria, said in the video. He added Idriss?s backers would keep fighting under his command
?No group that is not present on the country?s soil has the right to take a crucial decision that does not represent the views of the forces working on the ground,? he said, reading from a statement
One of the men in the video, Mohammed Al-Aboud, the FSA commander for Syria?s eastern front, confirmed by phone that he opposed the decision and said unit commanders were meeting with Idriss in Antakya, Turkey to discuss ?the next steps.?