Free Syrian Army gets tribal support

Free Syrian Army gets tribal support
Updated 21 June 2012

Free Syrian Army gets tribal support

Free Syrian Army gets tribal support

The importance of controlling land-based crossing points to Syria’s neighbors is increasing as fighting intensifies between the war-torn country’s government forces and the Free Syrian Army, according to opposition commanders and leaders.
They say it is particularly important for the Free Army to control supply flow as it now controls a quarter of the country including rural Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, Deraa and parts of rural Damascus.
A Free Syrian Army military source said most supplies come through the roads to Turkey and Iraq and some through the road to Jordan. The Free Army counts on tribal support in these areas.
Tribes play a major role in securing border roads for the delivery of weapons and ammunition to the Free Army as they have a strong influence in areas on the Turkish and Iraqi borders, said member of the opposition Syrian National Council Muhammad Mazeed Al-Tarkawi.
About 80 percent of weapons are obtained from the regime’s forces after battles, he added.
The road to Lebanon was once one of the main routes for supplies before government forces in cooperation with Lebanon seized control of the border.
The Free Army military source said: “Wadi Khaled Road that leads to Tripoli (in Lebanon) used to be an important channel for necessary supplies, and allowed Syrian people fleeing the violence to enter the country.
“More than 15,000 Syrian refugees fled Lebanese-Syrian border areas through that road after the regime army’s bombardment over their villages increased.”
The Free Army’s control over several areas and tribal support makes it possible to obtain the supplies needed for its battle against the Syrian regime.
In the north, the Free Army now controls villages near the border with Turkey, including Azaz and Atrab.
Through the borders with Turkey the Free Army receives military support. As generous support comes from these areas, said the source, Lebanese and Syrian authorities are cooperating to stop any smuggling through their borders.
The role of tribes is also important at the Lebanese-Syrian border, where Alfawwara, Alturki and Bani Khaled clans supply the Free Army with weapons, money and men.
The source said the Jordanian government’s complete control of its borders had made it hard to smuggle weapons despite the fact the Free Army controlled the Deraa rural area, one of the closest Syrian areas to Jordan.
However, tribes on the borders are delivering support in the form of money and weapons, according to Al-Tarkawi.
Tribes on the Syrian-Iraqi border give only moral support, he said.