On October 02, 2014, several FSA factions announced uniting their forces under the name of Al-Ababeel Army, and chose Abu Tawfeeq Al-Souri as their commander. This Army has been operating for two years in southern Syria.
The commander said when the Army was first formed that the factions decided to take their spontaneous, simple military work to the next level by institutionalizing and organizing it.
RFS interviewed the commander of Al-Ababeel Army, Shukri Al-Hajji, known as Abu Tawfeeq Al-Souri, to know more about the Army and the FSA in general.
How did you join the revolution?
When the revolution began, I participated in all its peaceful activities, then I moved to protecting demonstrations against the brutal regime crackdown before I was arrested. After my release, I joined several military and revolutionary men to form the Military Council in Dar’a. We gradually started operating in Damascus and its countryside, and we are still operating there.
What is the FSA’s role in the second phase of the Syrian revolution?
The FSA shoulders the responsibility of making revolutionary decisions, and supporting the civil and political activities inside Syria.
Does the FSA still depend on the public support?
Of course, the public support is the base of revolutionary work as the people paid the heaviest price, and the FSA was formed to protect them in the first place. Each FSA factions that refrains from protecting civilians and empowering them to achieve their goals is prone to lose its national and revolutionary legitimacy.
Is the FSA still protecting civilians?
The regime began by targeting civilians to stop the revolution, and the FSA was formed to defend them. Afterwards, other external parties interfered to support the regime against its own people, and changed the demographic map of Syria by forcing civilians from their cities and villages. At that point, the FSA became under more pressure as it wanted to defend Syrians against the regime and its allies. Therefore, the FSA was responsible for remaining inside civilian areas to protect civilians.
How can the FSA activate the role of civil life in the liberated areas?
The FSA ensures protecting civil organizations and activities in its areas, without interfering in managing them. It is also responsible for providing support to any civil project. The role of the FSA in relatively calm areas is clearer and more notable than it is in unstable areas, where its main role becomes focusing on the military aspect.
What is required of the FSA in Syria today?
The FSA is required to protect Syria and its people from the regime and its allies who occupied parts of Syria. In addition to preserving the revolutionary identity to distinguish it from the irrelevant currents and enforced identities that attempted to hijack the true spirit of the Syrian revolution.