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Syrian rebels get new leadership in bid to unite

BEIRUT – Rebel commanders from across Syria have joined forces under a united command they hope will increase coordination between diverse fighting groups and streamline the pathway for arms essential to their struggle against President Bashar Assad.

While many of the brigades involved in the fighting are decidedly Islamist in outlook and some have boasted about executing captured soldiers, two of the most extreme groups fighting in Syria were not invited to the rebel meeting in Turkey or included in the new council – a move that could encourage Western support.

Disorganization has bedeviled Syria’s rebel movement since its birth late last year, when some protesters gave up on peaceful means to bring down Assad’s regime and took up arms, forming the base of what became the Free Syrian Army.

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