News / Middle East

    Syrian Opposition Groups in Disarray

    A general view shows buildings that were damaged during clashes between with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and Free Syrian Army fighters, near Sayeda Zainab area in Damascus, May 27, 2013.
    A general view shows buildings that were damaged during clashes between with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and Free Syrian Army fighters, near Sayeda Zainab area in Damascus, May 27, 2013.
    Edward YeranianLisa Schlein
    A group of Syria-based opposition factions has accused the main opposition coalition-in-exile of failing to represent the Syrian people, in a sign of further disarray among opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.
     
    The four opposition factions issued a statement Wednesday threatening to withdraw recognition from the Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition unless it expands its membership to include "revolutionary forces" inside Syria.
     
    A member of the Free Syrian Army checks a weapon before buying it inside a shop in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, May 20, 2013.A member of the Free Syrian Army checks a weapon before buying it inside a shop in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, May 20, 2013.
    x
    A member of the Free Syrian Army checks a weapon before buying it inside a shop in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, May 20, 2013.
    A member of the Free Syrian Army checks a weapon before buying it inside a shop in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, May 20, 2013.
    The Syria-based groups said the sharply-divided SNC has failed to represent the two-year old anti-Assad rebellion at the "organizational, political and humanitarian levels."
     
    The statement came as SNC members struggled to reach any agreements on future strategy despite holding more than a week of meetings in Istanbul.
     
    Internal disputes about the coalition's membership and leadership have prevented it from taking a unified position on a U.S. and Russian proposal for the Syrian government and opposition to join a peace conference. 
     
    On the front lines, rebel commanders inside Syria are blasting both the opposition leaders and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, which is fighting against them in scattered pockets across the country.
     
    Talks at standstill
     
    Days of negotiations among opposition leaders meeting in Istanbul appear to be at a standstill, with the politicians unable to unite around a single leader or a unified council.
     
    “We never succeeded to bring them around one point - one point," said analyst Oraib Rantawi of the Al-Quds Center in Amman. "And when they left the meeting room, they started to talk about each other in a very bad way: traitors, agents, corrupted and all of these for God's sake; exclusion, they don't want this, they don't want that."
     
    Rantawi says opposition leaders should spend less time quarreling and focus on nation building. 
     
    “They keep saying: 'We have three quarters of Syria liberated,"' he said. "For God's sake, if it is liberated and safe, why are you hanging around? Go there. Go and work with your people if it is safe."
     
    Several foreign envoys arrived at the opposition meeting on Wednesday to try to get the talks moving.  They include Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu,  U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, and a top French diplomat on Syria. 
     
    U.N. condemnation
     
    Overview of the room during the urgent debate of the Human Rights Council on "the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic and the recent killings in Al Qusayr" at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, May 29, 2013.Overview of the room during the urgent debate of the Human Rights Council on "the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic and the recent killings in Al Qusayr" at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, May 29, 2013.
    x
    Overview of the room during the urgent debate of the Human Rights Council on "the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic and the recent killings in Al Qusayr" at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, May 29, 2013.
    Overview of the room during the urgent debate of the Human Rights Council on "the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic and the recent killings in Al Qusayr" at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, May 29, 2013.
    Meanwhile, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to condemn the Syrian regime's use of foreign fighters in the battle-torn town of Qusair and ordered an urgent probe into deaths there. Thirty-six of the council's 47 member states voted in favor.
     
    The council resolution, referring to Hezbollah, Lebanon’s militant Shi'ite group, signaled out the presence of foreign fighters siding with the government of President Bashar al-Assad as a serious threat to regional security.

    But Syria's government was not without its supporters. 
     
    Before the proceedings began, the Russian representative objected to holding a special session on Syria, saying the matter could be handled as part of regular business.

    Related - Russian Missile Plan Chills Chances for Syrian No-Fly Zone
     
    But he was quickly overruled and the debate began with a speech by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. She strongly condemned what she termed atrocities being committed by both government and rebel forces against civilians.  
     
    “In the run-up to the proposed International Conference on Syria in Geneva, states - especially those with influence on the combatants - must collectively act to stop this dreadful conflict from getting even worse," she said.
     
    The United States, which together with Turkey and Qatar requested the special session, also condemned recent government air strikes on Qusair. 
     
    “The assault on Qusair is the latest in the regime’s attempt to use sectarian-driven war to divide the Syrian people," said U.S. Ambassador to the council Eileen Donahoe. 
     
    Syrian response
     
    The Syrian ambassador, Faysal Khabbaz Hamaoui, denounced what he called the cynical and biased attitude of council members.  He said no massacres have occurred in Qusair. He accused Jihadist groups of terrorizing the people. 
     
    Speaking through an interpreter, he said Syria helped civilians to leave the town under the protection of Syrian troops. 
     
    "It gave the armed people a chance to give up their weapons and to leave the town without harm," he said. "However, some of them under orders from Qatar and Turkey were determined to continue the fight, holding thousands of civilians as human shields.”  
     
    Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday that the U.N. body's debate would hamper efforts to organize a peace conference on Syria. He said he was surprised to see the U.S. among the authors of the resolution, saying it runs contrary to the U.S. pledge to help organize the peace conference.   
     
    VOA's Michael Lipin contributed to this report from Washington. Lisa Schlein reported from Geneva and Edward Yeranian reported from Cairo. 
    • A boy sells juice near a damaged bus in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, May 30, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters hold weapons at their post in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, May 29, 2013.
    • Buildings that were damaged during clashes between forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and Free Syrian Army fighters, near the Sayeda Zainab area of Damascus, May 29, 2013.
    • Relatives visit a grave at the Shi'ite fighters cemetery in Damascus, May 28, 2013.
    • Shi'ite fighters ride through the Sayeda Zainab area of Damascus with their weapons, May 28, 2013.
    • The inside of a damaged mosque in Dahra Abd Rabbo village, Aleppo, May 27, 2013.
    • U.S. Senator John McCain meets with U.S. troops in southern Turkey, May 27, 2013.  He also visited rebels inside Syria.  This picture was released on his Twitter account.
    • Syrians participate in the funeral prayer for Youssef Ghazi al-Sarmani, who was killed in fighting between rebel and government forces, May 27. The logo in red reads "Talbiseh".
    • A boy makes pastry at a shop in Darkush town, Idlib province, May 26, 2013.
    • A group of men smuggle diesel fuel from Syria to Turkey hoping to sell it at a higher price, across the Al-Assi River in Idlib, May 26, 2013.
    • Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad during clashes against Syrian rebels in Aleppo, May 26, 2013.
    • Supporters and relatives of Hezbollah members attend the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter who died in the Syrian conflict. The funeral took place in the Ouzai district in Beirut, May 26, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter feeds pigeons in Homs, May 26, 2013.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha!

    How immigrants are triggering a great transformation in American cuisine

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    May 30, 2013 1:28 AM
    The main task of opposition(terrorist) is to pass lavish life at the cost of Syrian peoples and serve the agenda set by west. They never ever can think the magnitude of unlimited problems face by poor Syrian peoples who have no food,shelter,water,electricity and security. All of these artificial problems created by west just to obtain their object. Who is responsible for killing of more than 90,000/= innocent peoples, complete damage infrastructure,more than one billion become homeless. When they will start their normal life or they will die as refugee.

    This is very sad human tragedy, every body is talking about their personal agenda but no body can even talk about miserable suffering because of rich of gulf and world terrorist group to terrorize those nation who is not willing to take dictation from big shot. This is an example to IRAN to change their attitude as per GULF nations other wise the same fate is waiting for you not far but in near future. Iran is not queen to listen their master and act as per their wish and not as per wish of GOD.

    by: Jeriks from: EU
    May 29, 2013 6:25 PM
    The problem is that the US worries about the people getting killed and the russians do not give a hoot, Hey, Mr.Assad, pack a container full of stolen gold and move to Russia or some other safe location willing to have you and your family as a resident guest. Othervise you will have to kill all the people in your country or the people in your coutry will heve to kill you.

    by: kafantaris from: USA, Ohio
    May 29, 2013 2:22 PM
    Russia calling U.N. Syria resolution “odious” is the pot calling the kettle black.
    The mess now in Syria is because of Russia; and never-learned-to-think-for-itself China.
    On three separate occasions these two had rendered the world impotent in trying to sort things out in Syria.
    Left to fend for themselves, the Syrians have descended into the abyss of civil war -- the depths of which they have yet to see.
    Talk about odious. That epithet is for Russia. And it has earned it.

    by: Sam from: Accra
    May 29, 2013 10:11 AM
    Who is being deceived here? Many European countries are already supplying weapons to the rebels through Saudi Arabia , Qatar and Turkey.

    by: Anonymous
    May 29, 2013 8:55 AM
    Syrians have been waiting 3 years for protection, and still have none. I am disgusted as a Canadian that our government balked at the dropping of the arms restrictions.

    These are people who are systematically being killed for defending their own people. These are people being terrorized by tanks, planes, missiles, military. There is so many unarmed Syrians being killed by the Syrian army....

    Armies are not created to wipe out their own country, but this is what Bashar has done. He has used his own army to wipe out most of Syria, now most looks like a battle ground, Bashar has destroyed Syria with his own hands, and destroyed the lives of millions or killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    May 29, 2013 5:44 PM
    One of bashars favourite things to do is collateral damage. Bombing the innocent as a way of getting back at the opposition. As well, many of the fighters are not in fact terrorists, they are Syrians. If anyone is a terrorist here it is Bashar. I can understand why nobody in Syria would want to negotiate with someone guilty of killing so many innocent men, women and children. Most people want him to serve justice and do not want any negotiating whatsoever. He must pay for his crimes before he even considers running for any future presidency which we all know his justice would likely be death sentences, many of them.

    Every Syrian Life Counts.
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    May 29, 2013 10:25 AM
    It is called survival instinct. Bashar doesn't want to die. This war was instigated - mind you - Assad did not cause or call for it. The reason here was to remove Iran's control from this center of gravity. Hezbollah-Iran: and the opposition is not helping matters at all. At the end, it is the opposition to blame for the much blood shed even though Bashar fights to protect himself first and the mainly secular and minority groups that support him. If the war and bloodshed must stop, then let the opposition embrace dialogue and accommodate Bashar al Assad in the negotiation. Then much more bloodshed of innocent civilians (as if the military deserve to die) will stop.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora