Defense minister for Syrian opposition resigns

Photo: Defense minister for Syrian opposition resigns / Arabic region

The minister of defense for Syria's opposition government has resigned following disagreements with the body's head, opposition sources said on Monday, highlighting divisions among President Bashar al-Assad's opponents, Reuters reported.

Saudi-backed dissident Asaad Mustafa was appointed to his post in November as part of a plan by the opposition National Coalition to administer rebel-held areas of the war-torn country.

But the government-in-exile has been unable to control disparate rebel groups, which include foreign al Qaeda insurgents, and has received only marginal support from its Western backers.

Mustafa, in his sixties, served as minister of agriculture under Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad, but defected after the uprising against 40 years of family rule started in 2011 and turned into a civil war.

A rebel source close to Mustafa said he resigned on Sunday night to protest a lack of funds for his fighters from Coalition head Ahmed Jarba.

But a source in the Coalition said Mustafa left after Jarba refused to appoint him as provisional prime minister, a post currently held by Ahmed Tumeh, a moderate Islamist.

Mustafa "did not achieve anything. We lost Syria. We lost it to jihadis and to Assad," the source said on condition of anonymity.

Reuters was unable to immediately reach Mustafa for comment.

Jarba will remain head of the Coalition until June, when a new leader will be elected unless his term is extended.

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