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Additional information about Syrian rebels and a continuation of Regarding the Syrian Rebels and Regarding the Syrian Rebels II.


FSA: The Free Syrian Army

SNC: The Syrian National Council

SOC: The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces

SMC: The Supreme Military Council

Which is the higher authority, the FSA, or the SMC, or the SOC?


The relationship between the FSA and the SNC was troubled.

This carried over to the relationship between the SOC and the SMC when and after they were established at the end of last year.

The bridge which was to tie these two separate organizations together, an interim government, has not been formed.

Ghassan Hitto was elected Prime Minister of the interim government by the SOC on March 19, 2013. However, due to infighting in the SOC he was unable to establish a government and resigned on July 8, 2013.

The excerpts below give an indication of how the relationship between the SOC and SMC is and how it developed.


The 'Draft of the Syrian Coalition Doha Agreement' which established the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) states:

Fourth: The Coalition will be responsible to unify the military councils all battalions and military entities inside Syria in addition to creating a Supreme Military Council that oversees all military councils and entities. The Coalition will also aid in the composition of the Supreme Military Council, including all organizational and structural specifications.


This agreement was signed and approved on November 11th, 2012 in Doha, Qatar by all oppositional groups present and in the presence of the President of Arab Ministerial Committee of the Arab League and its members.


The newly formed SOC asserts that it will be responsible for unifying the rebels and for creating the SMC,

Then a month later ...


The 'Statement on the Formation of the Supreme Military Council Command of Syria' which established the SMC on December 15, 2013 in Antalya, Turkey states:

A conference was held in Turkey to unify the military wing of the Syrian opposition, which includes more than 550 members of the Syrian military and revolutionary council commands, as well as brigade and battalion commands. A total of 261 representatives were selected from among these groups to form the Revolutionary Force Authority. Thirty members, including six members of each of the fronts (eleven officers and nineteen civil revolutionaries), were elected to form the Supreme Military Council. ...

1. The Supreme Military Council Command is considered the highest military authority in the Syrian Arab Republic.

2. The minister of defense is the head of the Supreme Military Council Command.

3. Appointing the commander-in-chief. The Council has the right to accept his resignation or remove him in the event of incompetence. The latter requires a two-thirds majority vote in favor.

4. Nominating five names for the minister of defense and five for the minister of interior. The prime minister makes the final selection from these options.



Representatives from the FSA and other rebel groups establish the SMC themselves.

They also decide that the SMC will be the highest military authority and that its head will be the minister of defense.

They also decide that almost complete control of appointing, removing, or accepting the resignation of the minister of defense rests with the SMC.

Then ...


The SOC's 'Mission of the Syrian Coalition' states:

The Free Syrian Army

1. The Coalition works to prevent the destruction of Syria and the killing of Syrians through the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The FSA is committed to securing the protection of civilians and ensuring their legitimate right to self-defense, in full conformity with international law.

2. To systematize collaboration among its units, in December the FSA founded the Supreme Joint Military Command Council, a 30-member command structure that coordinates FSA operations and strategic planning. The Supreme Military Council is led by Chief of Staff, Salim Idris, and will be under the command of a civil ministry, pending the formation of the Coalition's interim government.



The SOC downplays the status of the SMC and claims that it will be under the command of the SOC.

The SOC later repeats its claim of command over the SMC, but this time with a little praise for the SMC.



13. The Syrian Supreme Military Command (SMC) operates under the civilian authority of the Coalition through the Ministry of Defense of the current Interim and succeeding Government. The SMC is functioning effectively with its established command-control structure and capability to conduct professional, well-planned and organized military operations. This requires all international military support to pass exclusively through the SMC. The SMC is committed to upholding international humanitarian and human rights law. We are ready to continue to work with the international community to establish the mechanisms through which the assistance will be delivered.


There was some indication that relations between the SOC and SMC might be improving at the end of May when it was announced that the SOC had agreed to add 51 members to its board, with 15 of them reserved for the SMC.

There is still no confirmation that these members have been added.


From the Department of State's May 31, 2013 Daily Press Briefing

MS. PSAKI: We view the Syrian Coalition’s announcement that it has expanded by 51 new members to a total of 114 people as a positive step. Of those 51 new seats, we understand 15 will be reserved for the Supreme Military Council and 14 will be reserved for additional grassroots activists from inside Syria. Just so everybody understands where we are in the process, some of these are reserve slots so there aren’t names yet assigned to the slots. That’s part of the process that they will be going – undergoing in the days ahead. And then, of course, they’ll be electing their leadership.

So the reason I told you all of that is that there is a process that the opposition is undergoing right now. Obviously, what happened yesterday is a positive step forward. There’s more that needs to be done. We’re working with them on that, and then we’ll continue to discuss their participation in the conference.

Originally posted to InAntalya on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 08:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Foreign Relations and Adalah — A Just Middle East.

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