Free Syrian Army leaders scuffled, Jarba punched: Spokesman

CAIRO – Head of the Syrian opposition bloc Ahmed Jarba was punched thrice as leaders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) scuffled during a meeting in Istanbul Thursday, according to a spokesman of the army`s chief of staff.

"Jarba received three punches even though he was not involved in the fistfight and was only trying to separate the two camps," Omar Abu Leila told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

He said the 30 members of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army and the field commanders engaged themselves in a fistfight during a Thursday meeting in Istanbul.

The scuffle broke out, according to Abu Leila, over differences regarding the details of an earlier agreement to settle a dispute triggered by the sacking of Free Syrian Army chief Salim Idriss.

Jarba and the Free Syrian Army ground commanders had met in Istanbul earlier to resolve the dispute.

According to the deal reached, both interim defense minister Assad al-Mustafa and Idriss were to submit their resignations.

However, the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army announced on Friday that al-Mustafa was staying in his post.

"The agreement is ink on paper. It`s null and void," Colonel Qasim Sadaddin, the council`s spokesman, told AA earlier Friday.

Citing the ineffectiveness of the general staff in the past few months, the council sacked Idriss on February 17 and appointed veteran field commander Abdullah al-Bashir in his place.

But the Free Syrian Army`s ground commanders rejected the decision, saying they would only take orders from Idriss.

The Free Syrian Army is the main armed opposition group in Syria fighting to topple the country`s president, Bashar al-Assad.

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