News / Middle East

Syrian Activist Group Threatens Opposition Bloc Pullout

A pro-Syrian regime protester holds a portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a demonstration to show support for their president, in Damascus, Syria. (File)
A pro-Syrian regime protester holds a portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a demonstration to show support for their president, in Damascus, Syria. (File)
VOA News
A key Syrian activist group has threatened to pull out of the country's already fractured opposition bloc because of complaints that it has strayed from the spirit of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad

The Local Coordination Committees said in a statement Thursday that the Syrian National Council, was acting with "political incompetence." The LCC, a network of activists in Syria, accused the SNC leadership of marginalizing council members, monopolizing power, and not coordinating closely enough with activists on the ground.

The SNC has so far had little success in unifying Syria's various factions and minority groups, with many key activists already having pulled out of the umbrella group.

The most recent dispute came earlier this week when the SNC voted to extend the term of its leader Burhan Ghalioun by another three months, despite concerns among some that he was too closely linked to Syria's Muslim Brotherhood.

The SNC was designated in March as the formal representative of Syria's opposition in response to international calls for unity among the country's various opposition groups.

Watch related video of Syrian violence

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fresh attacks by the Syrian government on Thursday. The group told VOA that government forces sent at least 30 shells into the rebel-held town of Rastan, north of Homs, during a 10-minute-long attack just after midnight.

Hours earlier, Syrian President Assad suggested in a rare television interview that he has little intention of ending his deadly crackdown on dissent, despite international condemnation and a peace plan that calls for a ceasefire.

Assad told a Russian television station that his government is fighting foreign-backed terrorists - not democracy activists - as part of his 14-month crackdown against an opposition uprising.

He insisted that he faces little domestic opposition, instead blaming the unrest on foreign mercenaries who want to see him overthrown. He said armed opposition groups, such as the Free Syrian Army, are filled with criminals and religious extremists.

"It's not an army, first of all, and it's not free because they get their arms from different foreign countries, Assad told the interviewer. "That's why they're not free at all. They are a bunch of criminals who have been violating the law for years and have been sentenced in various criminal cases. They are religious extremists like those from al-Qaida."

UN observers

Assad also accused U.N. observers in Syria of unfairly criticizing violence by government forces and ignoring attacks by terrorists.

The presence of the U.N. observer team has done little to stop the bloodshed. On Wednesday, Syrian activists said government shelling and gunfire killed at least nine people across the country, most of them in a region where a part of the U.N. team was caught up in a deadly shooting and bomb blast the day before.

The U.N. personnel are part of a larger group of observers who have deployed across Syria to assess government and rebel compliance with a fragile April truce brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan.

The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have been killed in violence related to the anti-government uprising that erupted more than a year ago. The Syrian government has blamed armed terrorist groups for much of the country's unrest.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
May 17, 2012 10:30 AM
It sure seems like Assad is in his "Own little world" if he tries telling the world we live in that most of the public in his own country is terrorists. Assad now manages a killing machine, a meat grinder, on his very own people. Seems pretty bad when you manage a country and can't even face your own people in public. It's just a matter of time before one of his own people assassinates him. You can only kick a poodle so many times before it bites you.

by: Michael from: usa
May 17, 2012 8:10 AM
The Syrian National Council (SNC) is having its unity broken by the Local Coordination group without any explanation as to how this would improve the SNC in the critical months ahead

by: AZcitizen
May 17, 2012 6:48 AM
"Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in a rare television interview that his government is fighting foreign-backed terrorists." Who left out the preposition? It should evidently read: "...his government is fighting ALONGSIDE foreign-backed terrorists".

by: beancube2010
May 17, 2012 5:39 AM
This psychopath, Assad, will assassin Putin when he runs into dead end and Putin refuses his demand.

by: Dave from: Idaho
May 17, 2012 5:22 AM
Pretty unfinded and fact-challenged name calling. And he even looks like a Tea Partier.

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