We have soldiers hidden on the outskirts of several cities: Daraa, Damascus, Homs, Hama, Idlib, Lattakia, Dair Alzour and Banias. It is hard to say exactly how many.
We only accept defectors from the regular army. The only civilians we have agreed to include are activists hiding from the regime, who risk execution if they are found.
Our main problem is that we lack weapons. All we have are AK-47s [assault rifles] and a few RPG-7s [rocket-propelled grenades]. These weapons were all stolen from the regular army. For now, we are unable to smuggle weapons from outside countries.
With this kind of equipment, we are able to slow down the advance of [Syrian President] Bashar al Assad’s troops, but we can’t really stop them. Regular citizens expect great things from us, but at the present time, we would be unable to take control of a neighbourhood, let alone a city. For now, we stick to quick one-shot operations, like the one Tuesday in Damascus. For us, this operation required months of training.
The international community should set up a ‘protected zone’
Soldiers defect every day. Only yesterday, a dozen joined my brigade in Homs. These defections could grow more frequent. The problem is that we have no safe place to regroup these defectors, because we don’t yet control any part of the country.
For us to really be able to improve our military capacity, the international community should set up and enforce a “protected zone” in the north of the country – a place where we could regroup and organize ourselves.