The leader of what is referred to as the moderate Syrian opposition has a message for the world: give us the proper support and we can end the two-pronged war in Syria against dictator Bashar al-Assad as well as ISIS in “three years max.”
Syrian Opposition Coalition president Hadi al-Bahra will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday to plead for American and western aid to defeat Assad and ISIS militants in Syria.
“Currently I am sitting with you and fighting on two fronts. We are fighting in Damascus against the regime, we are fighting in Aleppo against ISIL,” Bahra said. “We are in the fight and will continue to fight. But we need your assistance. This danger now is not a Syrian issue. It is proved now that it is not a regional issue. It is also expanding now to be threat in Europe and even to the U.S.”
Bahra was elected president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces in July after serving as a representative for the coalition of rebel groups fighting Assad during peace negotiations in Geneva last spring. During an interview with ABC News’ Bob Woodruff, Bahra said he was proud of his Syrian countrymen who took up arms to fight for their country.
“Actually, we aspire and look back to the American Revolution and we see now this story repeating itself. We are the normal Syrians fighting for our freedom and to transfer our political system to democracy,” Bahra said.
This week, Congress gave President Obama authority to provide funding and military training to Syrian opposition forces led by Bahra. Critics are skeptical that arms provided by the West could fall into the wrong hands and that the vetting and training process will take too long to effectively combat ISIS.
“I assure you all the aid will go to moderate national Syrian army, the Free Syrian Army, and we will be very careful with it,” Bahra said.
And Bahra says he is confident in the opposition’s ability to win the fight in Syria without U.S. boots on the ground.
“We would like to win our own freedom,” Bahra said. “By our own people, and we are ready to sacrifice everything to win back our freedom and our constitutional rights.”