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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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