Syrian rebels alter plans as aid denied

Jan. 5, 2013 at 2:56 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Syrian rebels have abandoned plans to try to overwhelm the forces of President Bashar Assad and will focus on a war of attrition, members of the opposition say.

The strategy changed after the rebel coalition failed to receive increased military aid, even after getting diplomatic recognition, The Guardian reported Saturday.

Supplies are drying up as Western governments resist arming the rebels, says a Syrian businessman who has helped fund the opposition. Arab countries that have provided equipment are sending less each week.

Consequently, the businessman said, rebel forces no longer see Assad being defeated in a grand sweep through the country. Rather, they are planning their battles one at a time, besieging military bases and capturing weapons.

In the past two months, Western nations including the United States have declared the rebel coalition "the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people," but have pinned contributions to proof the coalition controls rebel forces and that none of the aid will go to Islamist groups.

Many Syrians have declined to openly support the rebels out of uncertainty over who might win, The New York Times reported.

In some cases, Assad's crackdown has made protest much riskier. However, there's also a suspicion the rebellion is spawning warlords and creating cycles of revenge that could be difficult to eliminate, the newspaper said.

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