Posted: Feb 17, 2014 1:31 AM
Updated: Feb 17, 2014 1:32 AM
BEIRUT (AP) The coalition of Syrian opposition groups in exile has appointed a new army chief, following a year of seeing their influence fade among fighters within Syria.
The Western-backed Syrian National Coalition said Tuesday that it was appointing Brigadier Abd al-Ilah al-Bashir to head the Free Syrian Army.
He replaces Gen. Salim Idris, seen as a secular-leaning moderate.
In a statement, the coalition said they hoped al-Bashir would strengthen the role of the FSA.
The switch comes after a series of so-far failed talks in Switzerland between officials loyal to President Bashar Assad and exiled opposition activists to try to resolve the three-year war.
It also comes after at least a year of the FSA losing influence to other, more hard-line rebel groups, including al-Qaida affiliates and spinoffs.