Written evidence from THE SOUTHERN FRONT (ISI0006)
The Free Syrian Army
- Daesh – also known as IS, ISIS or ISIL – poses an existential threat to Syria and to the Syrian people. Its terror and brutality have no place in a Syria that is free, democratic and governed by the rule of law.
- Daesh must be degraded and destroyed. But to achieve this objective, we cannot focus on Daesh alone. We must target the root cause of Daesh’s existence and its greatest benefactor: the Syrian regime.
- Over the past four years, the Syrian regime has deliberately aided and abetted Daesh terrorists. We have witnessed how the regime has consistently focussed its force on our moderate opposition forces while ignoring Daesh on the battlefield.
- Through its relentless aerial assaults, including its use of deadly barrel bombs, it has driven recruits to Daesh ranks, diminished the capacity of moderate fighters to combat Daesh, and limited our ability to establish effective governance.
- To destroy Daesh, the international community must take measures to tackle the Syrian regime and empower those on the front lines of the fight against terror, who are best able to provide an effective alternative to radical extremists.
- In the short term, our allies should take measures to stop indiscriminate aerial bombardment, including through the enforcement of a no-bombing zone.
a) terrorise and kill civilians. We estimate that around 200 people are killed each week by Assad’s bombs. Most of the victims are civilians. Those who are not are revolutionary opposition forces who are actively engaged in the two-front war against Daesh and Assad.
b) eliminate the revolutionary opposition. 9 out of 10 of Assad’s airstrikes hit non-Daesh targets. The same is true for Russian strikes in Syria. These strikes serve to push back revolutionary groups, undermine our defences and open the door for extremist forces. As we see in Aleppo, airstrikes against moderates have helped Daesh siege the towns of Tal Qrah, Tal Sousin and Kfar Qares north of Aleppo, as well as the Infantry School—enabling it to come within 16 km of Aleppo city.
c) empty opposition-held areas. Across Syria, we see civilians fleeing air strikes. Many are leaving for neighbouring states, whose governments can no longer cope under the growing strain of Syrian refugee. As a result, growing numbers are leaving Syria to Europe and elsewhere.
d) prevent democratic governance from emerging. Airstrikes make it extremely difficult for moderate opposition groups to fill the void of civilian administration and service provision. They prevent our ability to govern effectively and to provide the services our people need.
Annex I: The Pledge of the Syrian Revolutionaries from the Battlefield; The Transitional Phase
Annex II: Map of Territories Controlled by the Southern Front
Syrian Arab Republic
Free Syrian Army
The Pledge of the Syrian Revolutionaries from the Battlefields
The need to resort to armed conflict resulted directly from the violent repression of an Assad regime that remains unwilling to adopt meaningful reforms that genuinely respond to the legitimate demands of the Syrian people. Sadly, those peaceful demands were answered with bullets and tanks. To defend our lives and the lives of our loved ones, to protect our dignity and secure a brighter future for our country, we had no choice but to respond in kind to the regime's actions.
Yet, it is clear to those of us who defend the people of the Syrian revolution as they continue to strive toward freedom that our actions are accompanied by responsibilities. Therefore, from the battlefields of our homeland, we announce our unconditional commitment to international law and our unconditional commitment to respect for human rights and International Humanitarian Law.
We herewith dedicate ourselves to the following responsibilities:
As we are duty bound to protect the principles of the Syrian revolution and the responsibilities noted above, which derive from the extant body of human rights law and International Humanitarian Law, every fighter participating in the Syrian revolution is considered to have acknowledged that commitment. Further, we are committed in our respect for the rules of international human rights law and other applicable international norms, even if they are not mentioned specifically in this text.
The Southern Front
The Free Syrian Army
STATEMENT NO. 4
THE TRANSITIONAL PHASE
The collapse of the current regime will not be the end of the Syrian people’s revolution. The end of the regime will be only the start of a new and, hopefully, final phase of the people’s struggle for freedom. In order to ensure that the final phase succeeds with the establishment of a new national model of governance based on respect for human dignity and a rebirth of Syria’s tremendous potential, it is imperative that all nationalist forces commit to a course of action during the period of transition from authoritarianism that will fulfill the popular will.
The Southern Front announces that it will dedicate its efforts during the period of transition following the collapse of the regime to supporting:
First: the protection of all Syrian citizens, their property and their rights without any distinction of religion, culture, ethnicity, or political affiliation in accordance with International Humanitarian Law and the international standards of Human Rights.
Second: the maintenance of Syrian state institutions, including all ministries and military institutions.
Third: the integrity of the economic and service infrastructure of the state, including telecommunications, energy, water, and public and private transportation networks.
Fourth: the establishment of a process of inclusive, national, political reconstruction.
1- The Civil Defense Force:
Once the Assad regime collapses, the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army intends to transition from a military organization into a civilian defense force to contribute to establishing the appropriate conditions to enable a successful political transition in Syria. Among the primary objectives of a civilian defense force will be: protecting all citizens, maintaining all state institutions, and securing the infrastructure for the economic prosperity of the country.
The Joint Command of the Southern Front is currently preparing itself for the moment of transition and is committed to implementing a detailed day-after plan to protect Damascus (the seat of government), prevent looting, protect citizens and state employees, and ensure that governmental institutions remain fully operational.
2- The Transitional Administration:
To guide the period of transition, the Southern Front will support efforts to establish a Transitional Administration. The Southern Front believes that no current state employees, identified for their competence and loyal service to the state, should be excluded from continuing to serve. In addition, the Transitional Administration should be open to senior defected government officials who return to the country to help in its reconstruction. The Southern Front, which by this time will have transformed into the the Civil Defense Forces, will support such an interim governing arrangement granted that it is non-political, and led by technocrats whose terms will end upon the completion of the interim or transitional phase. .
The first task of the Transitional Administration will be announcing the cessation of all military operations and demanding foreign fighters to leave the country within a specified period of time. The Transitional Administration will also take steps to ensure that state institutions continue their routine work. It will announce to government officials including the judicial authority that their work will be guaranteed within the framework of the General Law. The civilian police will be requested to continue their work. The armed forces will be requested to remain temporarily in their barracks until security and order restored.
The current constitution will be immediately suspended and replaced by the original constitution of 1950 as an interim constitution until the drafting of a permanent constitution for the country that shall be approved by a popular referendum.
To ensure neutrality with respect to key decisions that need to be made during the critical transitional period, the Transitional Administration should issue an immediate appeal to the United Nations to form a “Syrian Transitional Phase Office" in Damascus as soon as possible with a special envoy of the UN Secretary General. This Office will be necessary to advise the Transitional Administration, coordinate foreign aid, and identify key requirements for the transition. It is also needed to recommend and supply experts and advisers to help rebuild the institutions of the state.
To ease the pressure on the Transitional Administration, and to benefit from the best Syrian minds and intellects in guiding the transition, the “Syrian Transitional Phase Office" will be requested to appoint a Syrian Advisory Committee composed of qualified professionals to draft a framework and plans for the transitional period, according to a specific timetable. The Office will also request the presence of a UN observer missions and specialist teams.
The key tasks for UN and the Syrian Advisory Committee will be:
First: to establish the High Electoral Commission.
Second: to oversee general elections to choose an “interim” legislative authority within six months, paving the way for the formation of a constituent committee for the drafting of the constitution.
Third: to form a constituent committee to draft the permanent constitution for the country within one year.
Fourth: to hold a public referendum on the constitution after the completion of the work of the constituent committee.
Fifth: to implement national elections for a new parliament and government.
All bodies and formed by the “Syrian Transitional Phase Office" or by the Advisory Committee should be independent bodies. They should advice the Transitional Administration, but they should not be subject to it or overlap with it. The mandate of the Transitional Administration should be considered officially over after the holding of elections for a new parliament and government.
Long Live Free Syria
Annex II: Map of Territories Controlled by the Southern Front