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Western-backed rebels in Syria name new military commander
Civil war » Move aims to get U.S. and allies to provide anti-aircraft weapons.

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"All of this is based, at least in some part, in trying to send a message to Western backers that moderates do still hold great potential strength in this conflict and they are capable of unifying their forces," said researcher Charles Lister, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.

Syria’s conflict started in March 2011 as a largely peaceful uprising against Assad but eventually morphed into a civil war, with more than 140,000 people killed, according to activists.

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Kerry had harsh words for Assad and his Russian backers Monday.

"Russia needs to be a part of the solution and not be contributing so many more weapons and so much more aid that they are in fact enabling Assad to double down, which is creating an enormous problem," he said.

In rebel-held parts of northern Syria where Islamic rebel groups prevail, al-Bashir’s appointment was met with a shrug.

"Most of the factions on the ground are mostly of the Islamic Front who don’t really care that Idris was fired, or that Bashir was appointed," said Akram al-Halabi, spokesman of the Tawhid Brigades, part of the Islamic Front.

"The people lost hope in the FSA a long time ago," he said.


Associated Press writers Mathew Lee in the United Arab Emirates and Diaa Hadid in Beirut contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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