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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs