Salim Idris

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Salim Idris
سلیم إدریس
Salim Idris Portrait.jpg
Born1958 (age 62–63)
Al-Mubarakiya, Homs Governorate, Syria
Allegiance Syria
(1979 – July 2012)
Flag of Syria 2011, observed.svg Syrian National Coalition (December 2012–present)
Service/branch Syrian Armed Forces
(1979 – July 2012)
Flag of Syria 2011, observed.svg Free Syrian Army
(July 2012–2016)
Flag of Syria 2011, observed.svg Syrian National Army
Years of service1979-present
RankBrigadier general (?–2019)
Major general (2019–present)
UnitCorps of Engineers
Battles/warsSyrian Civil War

Salim Idris (Arabic: سلیم ادریسSalīm Idrīs) (born 1958)[1] is the former Chief of Staff of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) of the Free Syrian Army, which is the main Syrian armed opposition group. He has a PhD in "electronic radars" and speaks five languages, including English.[2] An East German-trained electronics professor, he was a general in the Syrian Army when he defected in July 2012.[3] Idris is widely considered to represent the moderate elements of Syria's armed opposition, as armed opposition leaders under his leadership have subscribed to the pro-democracy Proclamation of Principles.[4][5][6][7]

Military activities[edit]

Idris was elected as the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Military Council following its establishment in a conference held in Turkey on 15 December 2012. At the conference, over 550 members of the Syrian revolutionary council, brigades, and battalion commands elected 261 representatives to form the Revolutionary Force Authority. Thirty members were elected to form the SMC, which includes five combat Fronts covering Syria's 14 provinces.[8][9]

In December 2013, Idris was initially reportedly driven out of his headquarters in northern Syria by the Islamic Front into exile in Doha, Qatar, but U.S. officials later said he was in Turkey throughout the incursion.[10] However, the FSA has denied that Idris has left Syria.[11] A few days later, Syrian National Coalition (SNC) Chief of Staff Monzer Akbik said that Idris "has failed to make an institution, I don't think everything can continue in the same way."[12]

Idris was removed from his position as Chief-of-Staff of the FSA's Supreme Military Council in an announcement on 16 February 2014. He was replaced with Brigadier General Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir.[13][14]

Political activities[edit]

Idris has become increasingly engaged with soliciting aid from Western nations since his initial request of specialized training and non-lethal material support from the United States in February 2013.[15] On 30 April 2013 the United States began deliveries of ready-to-eat rations and Warrior Aid and Litter Kits (WALK) to the Free Syrian Army under the oversight of Idris, in what was the first U.S. delivery of tangible aid to Syria's armed opposition.[16]

In May 2013, U.S. Senator John McCain crossed into Syria from Turkey to meet with Idris.[17][18][19] Idris has issued letters and statements to Secretary of State John Kerry, President Barack Obama, and the United Nations Security Council to encourage international intervention and support in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.[20][21][22][23][24] In an 8 June 2013 interview with the New York Times, Idris outlined that continued international support for the Free Syrian Army, including "game-changing weapons," were required as a precondition for his attendance at planned negotiations with Bashar al-Assad in Geneva.[25]

In 2019 Idris was appointed to the post of Minister of Defence of the Syrian Interim Government and was thus appointed as commander-in-chief of the Syrian National Army. As such, he led the SNA into the 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria, alongside the Turkish Armed Forces.[26] Idris stated that Turkey-backed Syrian rebels "stand in full force in support of our Turkish brothers in fighting all forms of terrorism represented by the PKK gangs."[27]


  1. ^ "National Army: A marriage of convenience, or a strategic asset?". Enab Baladi. 21 October 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  2. ^ رئيس أركان الجيش الحر سليم إدريس
  3. ^ Jeremy M. Sharp; Christopher M. Blanchard (6 September 2013). "Armed Conflict in Syria: Background and U.S. Response" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Syrian Free Army names Salim Idris new chief of staff". Al Arabiya News. 10 December 2012. Archived from the original on 17 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  5. ^ "AP Interview: New Syrian rebel commander 'very afraid' regime will use chemical weapons". The Washington Post. 19 December 2012. Archived from the original on 5 January 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Syrian rebel leader: We won't share U.S. arms with extremists". NPR.
  7. ^ "Free Syrian Army Proclamation of Principles" (PDF). IRIN News.
  8. ^ "Statement on the Formation of the Supreme Military Council Command of Syria". Carnegie.
  9. ^ "The Free Syrian Army, Institute for the Study of War" (PDF). Understanding War.
  10. ^ "Top U.S.-backed Commander in Syria Run Out, U.S. Officials Say". The Wall Street Journal. 12 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Syrian rebels deny reports top commander forced to flee". Reuters. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Salim Idris has failed as leader of Syrian rebels, coalition says". The Daily Telegraph. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  13. ^ "Free Syrian Army fires military chief - Middle East". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  14. ^ "BBC News - Free Syrian Army replaces chief-of-staff Salim Idris". 1 January 1970. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  15. ^ "What path now for Syria?". The Washington Post. 12 February 2013. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013.
  16. ^ "U.S. delivers first aid shipment to Free Syrian Army". Foreign Policy. 1 May 2013.
  17. ^ "White House was aware of McCain's trip to Syria in advance". Reuters. 28 May 2013.
  18. ^ "McCain Meets With Rebels In Syria". NPR. 27 May 2013.
  19. ^ "What Sen. John McCain was doing in Syria". The Week. 28 May 2013.
  20. ^ "Peace talks in jeopardy: Rebels demand heavy weapons as precondition".
  21. ^ "Frustrated by Obama's caution on Syria". The Washington Post. 30 April 2013. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013.
  22. ^ "Idris Letter to Obama".
  23. ^ "Syrian rebel leader cites Hezbollah in attack on town".
  24. ^ "General Idris's Letter to the United Nations Security Council". The Washington Post. 30 May 2013.
  25. ^ "Syrian opposition to sit out any talks unless arms are sent, General says". The New York Times. 9 June 2013.
  26. ^ "En Syrie, "l'Armée Nationale" et "Le Front National de Libération" se sont unifiés". Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  27. ^ "Syrian rebels vow to back any Turkish operation into northeast". Reuters. 4 October 2019.
Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of the Free Syrian Army
8 December 2012 – 16 February 2014
Succeeded by