Syrian rebel leader asks Israel, US for help

Man calling himself chairman of opposition group seeks ‘creative ways’ to stop Assad regime’s attacks, including IAF strikes

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A man suffering a seizure, from a video reporting to show victims of the chemical attack outside Damascus on August 21, 2013. (Screenshot: YouTube)
A man suffering a seizure, from a video reporting to show victims of the chemical attack outside Damascus on August 21, 2013. (Screenshot: YouTube)

A man claiming to be the leader of a rebel group fighting in Syria made an emotional appeal to Israel and the United States for help in stopping the regime on Bashar Assad following an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

The man, who spoke to the Maariv daily via telephone from Turkey, is known by the pseudonym Abu Adnan and is chairman of the Coalition of Syrian Rebels, a Thursday report said.

“I appeal to Israel and the United States — help us stop the crimes and the massacres that Assad is carrying out,” Adnan said. “Iran is helping him now to carry out these chemical weapons attacks and Hezbollah is with him too.

“Look the Syrian people in the eye. All we need is freedom, like all other people in the world. We are looking for peace and this is a historical chance to reach a peace agreement.”

Although Adnan doesn’t expect Israel to become directly involved in the internal Syrian conflict, he said, he harbored hope that it would nonetheless find a way to help.

“We are relying on her [Israel] and the United States, who both know exactly what creative ways there are to help us to overcome Assad,” he said. “We believe that they know the weak points of the regime and we expect quality Israeli bombardments soon, just like it did on Assad’s weapons depots in Qassiyoun and Latakia. Every delay by Israel and the United States only strengthens the radical Islamic forces.”

At the time of Wednesday’s alleged chemical weapons attack, which rebel forces said killed 1,300 people, Adnan was in a refugee camp in Turkey where he and his family fled after their home near Homs was destroyed nine months ago. According to the report, Adnan travels into Syria to meet with members of the Free Syrian Army, whose ranks include his five brothers.

Adnan said he had heard that the attack began at 3 a.m. on Wednesday when Syrian air force jets fired 20 chemical weapons-tipped rockets at targets in and around the villages of Zamalka and Jobar.

Not only does the Syrian population not know how to defend itself against chemical weapons, it also don’t know how to treat victims, Adnan noted.

“There are no medications and equipment that are needed for dealing with victims of a chemical weapons attack,” he said. “We need help in all aspects — food, medical equipment, housing for refugees. You need to understand that the number of refugees inside Syria is twice the number that have fled out of the country.”

The UK, France and the Arab League said they would formally urge UN inspectors, currently in Syria to investigate previous allegations of chemical weapons use, to examine the incident, a move Russia and China blocked during a UN Security Council discussion late Wednesday night.

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