News / USA

Syrian Opposition Disputes Prevent Decision on Peace Talks

Louay al-Safi, spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition (L), speaks during a news conference in Istanbul May 26, 2013.
Louay al-Safi, spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition (L), speaks during a news conference in Istanbul May 26, 2013.
VOA News
Syria's main opposition coalition has held an unscheduled fourth day of meetings in Istanbul (Turkey) as internal disputes prevent it from deciding whether to join a U.S. and Russian-backed peace conference with Damascus.

Syrian National Coalition members on Sunday said the main dispute concerns whether to grant Saudi Arabia a bigger role in the group, by expanding its membership to include Saudi-backed opposition figures such as veteran dissident Michel Kilo. They said the Qatar-backed Muslim Brotherhood faction of the coalition is resisting such an expansion.

Qatar has exerted a greater influence over the Syrian opposition coalition to date, by acting as a chief contributor of money and weapons to rebels fighting a two-year rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian opposition sources said that if the coalition can agree on an expanded membership, it also must decide the fate of its prime minister Ghassan Hitto, who has not been able to form a provisional government for Syria. They said resolving the leadership and membership issues would allow the coalition to respond formally to the U.S. and Russian plan for a Syrian peace conference in Geneva next month.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said Sunday his government has agreed "in principle" to attend the proposed conference, calling it "a good opportunity to resolve the Syrian crisis."

Washington and Moscow have said they want the Assad government and the opposition to negotiate the formation of a transitional government that would lead Syria out of its civil war, which has killed more than 80,000 people.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Paris Monday to discuss how to move forward with the peace conference.

Syrian government forces have been fighting to recapture the strategic rebel town of Qusair in recent days in an apparent bid to strengthen Mr. Assad's position ahead of peace talks.

An amateur video posted to the Internet Sunday showed a purported Syrian government air strike on Qusair. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting in Qusair killed at least 27 rebels and three civilians on Saturday.

Syrian troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants have unleashed heavy artillery and tank fire on the Sunni Muslim town near the Lebanese border. Qusair's capture would mark a significant victory for Mr. Assad because it is located along a highway linking Damascus to the Mediterranean coast, a stronghold of his minority Alawite sect.

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

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Naseer Ahmad from: Kabul
May 29, 2013 12:57 AM
Two years ago Syria was a peaceful country. most people in the Islamic countries think that why such a devastating war begun in the Syria and who support and benefit this war. Bashar doesnt know what he is doing. He lets Syria to be devastated and its resorces be lost. At the end there will be a destroied country with a tired, damaged and needy people. If the government and rebel know that they are misusing and they are heading wrong direction they can rescue there country.

May 27, 2013 2:01 AM
This is very sad situation. I have mentioned in my previous comments that opposition main target to capture power and then enjoy their life with the blessing of west. They do not have brain to think how to solve Syrian problems. They are just united because of backing of west with DOLLAR and weapons to change regime and that is all. Do yo think this is not terrorism, because this is supported by west so this is not terrorism, this is freedom fight for POOR SYRIAN PEOPLES.Just to obtain our personal goals we did this drama and not for syrian peoples this is very sad story.

History will record all these acts and all these MAIN characters will remain in hell because MY GOD knows the true story behind this big drame for more then three years. MY GOD will not make any mistake in judgement and he will give award according to our acts in this world.Can we live without water and electricity.........BIG NO. This opposition who is holding this conference in complete ac hotel with complete security can imagine problem of syrian peoples never ever. They are working on west agenda to destroy syria completely and then they will start with IRAN. Because IRAN never take dictation like SAUDI ARABIA, QATAR,UAE, BAHRAIN,KUWAIT and so many ideal puppel govt to serve west interest in their region.
In Response

by: Julian Leonard from: Manchester UK
May 27, 2013 8:03 AM
Trust me, most people in the West do not want involvement in Syria. They did not want involvement in Iraq or Libya. Even the minority that do are simply making that decision based on an uncritical acceptance of the simplistic good versus bad rhetoric of populist politicians and mainstream media. There is no democratic mechanism here in the West by which changes in our disgraceful and murderous foreign policy can be changed. The only issues upon which we seem to be able to vote upon every four or five years is the colour of the tie our next bunch of dictators wear!

Democracy is a sham here, hijacked by those made powerful by an economic system in which there is no negative feedback function so, the rich simply get more rich, more powerful, and increasingly able to increasingly distort the law and decision-making process for their own benefit. They get away with it because they are much more devious, mendacious and sophisticated in their control than the Disneyesque puppets like Hussein and Assad they create to make war with.

I'm not a believer in God myself but, if I were I'd believe in the Devil too and, I'd suspect we're living in a world in which money and power has led to it being ruled and run by devils and, that being the case, I could only hope you're right and, in some other spiritual dimension, these truly inhuman people are judged and punished accordingly.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
May 26, 2013 8:31 PM
The continued inability of the opposition to unite, just shows that they lack credibility. While they are looking after their own selfish standing, thousands of Syrians are dying. If after 80,000 dead, mostly massacred Sunni civilians, by Assad's big weapons, this opposition can't get its political act together, one can only classify them as a bunch of uncaring people, that do not understand, nor have the most rudimentary, or most basic leadership attributes. One can only feel great pity, for the poor civilians, in Syria, that they have such bad luck, not just because of the civil war, but because of such poor quality leaders. In reality, only a negotiated settlement, starting with a ceasefire, may bring the terrible civil war to an end soon; the alternative is a continuation of the bloodshed and suffering. This failure to have a credible political leadership, to address the US/Russia peace initiative, is going to cost further support for the opposition's end objectives. Very sad situation for Syrian civilians.

by: Julian Leonard from: Manchester UK
May 26, 2013 8:01 PM
Last month, sympathisers of these Syrian 'rebels' detonated a bomb in Boston killing and maiming many innocent people.

Two weeks ago I see verified footage of 'rebel' commander Abu Sakkar cutting out and eating the very heart from a dead Syrian soldier.

Last week I see two Islamist militants, sympathetic to 'Rebel' groups in Syria, kill -then butcher- a young man in the daylit London street.

Now I read that these same 'Rebel' factions are so divided that they can't even manage agreement to ATTEND talks!

And that this ragtag, motley collection of unknowns which include spivs, terrorists, cut-throats and war-criminals are being supported, armed and given the opportunity to control an entire sovereign nation on the very borders of Europe makes me wonder for the sanity of the politicians we have given the authority to 'lead' us.

by: Don wv from: US
May 26, 2013 7:15 PM
Syrian rebels will never join any peace plan! As a peace plan would give the Syrian people a vote and a voice. The rebels (aka terrorist) wants a dictator like in Egypt!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

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 Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

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.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs