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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid