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Syria opposition groups form new government in Idlib

Image of members of Free Syrian Army on February 11, 2017 [Hüseyin Nasır/Anadolu]
Members of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, Syria on 11 February 2017 [Hüseyin Nasır/Anadolu Agency]

Syrian opposition fighters and local council members formed a new government to regulate the liberated areas in the north of the war-torn country, news agency Zaman Al-Wasl reported.

The National Salvation Government appointed Dr Muhammad Al-Sheikh to head the party, with 11 more ministers to deal with interior affairs, justice, education and economic matters, among others.  Former Syrian air force colonel and subsequent founder of the Free Syrian Army, Riyad Al-Asaad, was appointed deputy prime minister for military affairs.

The decision was announced in a press conference held at the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, and the new government was announced to be independent of all military factions.

Al-Sheikh told Syrian based news agency On the Ground News that the government would aim to represent the interests of Syrian civilians in the liberated territories under opposition control.

“We aspire to be a reference for the people, and that which serves them free of corruption and favouritism; actually serving and representing them.”

Al-Sheikh also reinforced the independence of the government from any domestic or foreign interference: “…we will remain independent, meaning we won’t tolerate pressure from any side.”

Read: Syrian opposition rejects Russian-sponsored talks in favour of UN initiative

The government announced the formation of four commissions: Inspection Authority, Prisoners and Missing Affairs, Planning and Statistics Authority and the Commission of Trade Unions.

The National Salvation Government is the second such group to emerge in Syria in an attempt to govern areas liberated from President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces.

In 2012, the Syrian National Coalition was founded in Qatar with prominent pro-democracy and secular activists at the helm. The coalition also awarded membership to representatives of the Free Syrian Army.

Whilst it maintains significant international recognition, the coalition is considered increasingly irrelevant by many activists and fighters in Syria, as the situation on the ground changes rapidly.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have also claimed to represent the Syrian opposition; however as a Kurdish-led force inspired by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) founder Abdullah Ocalan, their objective remains to create a federation in the north of the country.

Read: Syrian Democratic Forces: We focus on battling Syrian opposition not regime

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