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.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs