News / Middle East

Violence Flares as Syrian Opposition Garners Support

Cleric Ahmad al-Khatib was chosen in Doha, Qatar to lead newly united opposition against Syrian's president, Bashar al-Assad, November 11, 2012.
Cleric Ahmad al-Khatib was chosen in Doha, Qatar to lead newly united opposition against Syrian's president, Bashar al-Assad, November 11, 2012.
Edward YeranianLisa Schlein
Deadly fighting continues in Syria, as Arab and European leaders urge the newly-united opposition to seek broader support after it was recognized by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
 
It was a day of partial victories for the new Syrian opposition front, as European and Arab foreign ministers discussed levels of recognition by foreign states and regional groups.
 
Reported Deaths Across Syria - updated Nov 5, 2012Reported Deaths Across Syria - updated Nov 5, 2012
x
Reported Deaths Across Syria - updated Nov 5, 2012
Reported Deaths Across Syria - updated Nov 5, 2012
Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamid bin Jaber bin Jassem Al Thani urged international support. He called on international and regional groups to recognize the new entity as the legitimate expression of the expectations of the Syrian people, but stopped short of calling for it to be their sole representative.
 
Arab League foreign ministers gave the new coalition partial recognition, but did not go so far as to delegitimize the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
 
Arab media reported that Algerian, Iraqi and Lebanese foreign ministers refused to endorse such a move.
 
British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the formation of the new group a "milestone," but insisted that strong internal support was needed before Britain would recognize it.
 
Profiles of three leaders of newly-founded Syrian National Coalition for Revolutionary Forces and Syrian Opposition:

Ahmad Maath Khatib

Khatib is the president of the coalition. He is a 52-year-old political activist and a former cleric at the Great Mosque of Damascus, Islam's fourth holiest site. Khatib is regarded as a religious moderate and a political independent, even after spending four years working for the government-owned oil company. Khatib has been jailed four times for taking part in demonstrations against President Bashar al-Asad. He fled for Cairo with his family in April.

Riad Seif

Syrian opposition members elected Seif as Khatib's deputy. He is 65-years-old and ran an Adidas sportswear store in Syria before Syrian authorities imprisoned him and forced him into bankruptcy for his pro-opposition activities. When Mr. Assad became president in 2000, Seif founded the Damascus Declaration, a movement calling for more liberalized political institutions. He also founded a political party to challenge the ruling Ba'ath Party. Seif fled to Amman last year.

Suhair Atassi

A human rights activist, Atassi is one of the few women among the opposition leadership. She runs the Jamal Atassi Forum, a Facebook group calling for political reforms and the restoration of the civil and constitutional rights suspended since 1963. Atassi has been frequently harassed and threatened by Syrian security forces who demand she shut down her forum.
"We do now want to see the detail of the agreement that was made in Doha implemented and we want to see, in practice, that the Syrian opposition, that the coalition that has now been assembled, is as inclusive as possible of opposition groups and of all communities in Syria, and we want to see that they have support inside Syria," Hague said.
 
Hague and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said their countries would continue to abide by a European Union arms embargo on Syria, which prevents them from arming rebel forces. Fabius, however, stated that France would recognize the new coalition.

Opposition seeks legitimacy

The head of the new Syrian opposition front, Maath al-Khatib, urged the EU to recognize the body by providing both political and financial support.
 
George Sabra, one of Khatib's deputies, has said repeatedly that the rebels need weapons more than anything else. The regime, he said, is armed, but its victims are not.
 
Meanwhile, Syrian government warplanes bombed the border town Ras al-Ein for another day Tuesday, causing more casualties and creating panic. Government planes also carried out aerial bombardment of parts of the capital Damascus and its outer suburbs.
 
Riad Kahwaji, who heads the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said that the government's bombing of the capital reflects its growing level of desperation, something the government denies is happening.
 
"This reflects the desperate position the regime has reached," he said. "The only reason that the Syrian regime is still in the fight is because of the money and the support it has been receiving from Iran and some manpower from Hezbollah. If it wasn't for the Iranian financing, the regime would have collapsed a long time ago."
 
No-fly zone debated
 
Kahwaji said the rebels have been making slow but steady progress in capturing portions of Syria from the government, but that it has taken a human toll. He said a no-fly zone, which is being considered by the U.S. and its NATO allies, would cut down civilian losses and hasten the fall of the government.
 
"Deploying Patriots along the borders will establish a no-fly zone up to about fifty to sixty kilometers deep into Syria," he said. "This would cover most of the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and good chunks of Raqqa and Latakiya. Just the Patriots along the borders will create a no-fly zone for northern Syria."
 
People from the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain attempt to cross into Turkey, as a Free Syrian Army fighter leaves a home in the background, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 13, 2012.People from the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain attempt to cross into Turkey, as a Free Syrian Army fighter leaves a home in the background, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 13, 2012.
x
People from the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain attempt to cross into Turkey, as a Free Syrian Army fighter leaves a home in the background, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 13, 2012.
People from the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain attempt to cross into Turkey, as a Free Syrian Army fighter leaves a home in the background, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 13, 2012.
Crisis worsening
 
Humanitarian groups reported Monday that the crisis is worsening for Syrians.
 
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent estimates that 2.5 million people inside Syria have fled their homes and are in need of humanitarian assistance.
 
United Nations refugee spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said five percent of them are living in schools and other public places. The rest are living with families.
 
"We have so many accounts from refugees who have come across borders who were previously internally displaced," she said. "They were internally displaced several times before they became refugees."
 
The United Nations refugee agency has some 350 staff in Syria, working in Damascus, Aleppo and Hassakeh. Fleming said the UNHCR is trying to provide aid to up to 1.5-million people inside Syria by the end of the year.
 
Fleming said recent disruptions to operations due to insecurity are hampering these efforts. Over the past few weeks, she said the agency lost aid supplies due to shelling and other problems. In addition, a truck carrying 600 blankets was hijacked on its way to Adra, outside Damascus.

- Correspondent Lisa Schlein reported from Geneva.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
November 14, 2012 8:54 AM
A "Crisis", caused, by the so-called rebels. No matter what is "claimed" the fact is that this insurgency would NEVER survive without external factors supplying, orchestrating, financing and perpetuating the conflict. Period.


by: Michael from: USA
November 14, 2012 3:41 AM
France has stood up for a communal welcome but others are calling for air-power, which shows why pacifists are against war as a solution to these large problems

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid