News / Middle East

US Applauds Founding of Syrian Opposition Coalition

From left: Ahmed Ramadan, Bassma Kodmani, Abdulbaset Seida and Imad Aldeen Rashid speak as a group of Syrian opposition members announce a Syrian National Council in Istanbul, Turkey, September 15, 2011.
From left: Ahmed Ramadan, Bassma Kodmani, Abdulbaset Seida and Imad Aldeen Rashid speak as a group of Syrian opposition members announce a Syrian National Council in Istanbul, Turkey, September 15, 2011.

The United States has welcomed the formation on Thursday of an umbrella group of Syrian opposition figures, the self-proclaimed Syrian National Council. The group, meeting in Istanbul, said it aims to help topple the Damascus government within six months and form an interim administration.  

The Obama administration, which a month ago called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to “step aside,” is welcoming the formation of the opposition coalition whose professed aim is to oust Syria's government.

Capping a four-day meeting in Istanbul, a diverse array of Assad government opponents said it has chosen a 140-member Syrian National Council of whom about half are activists inside Syria and were not publicly identified.

A spokesman for the group, French-based Syrian exile Basma Kadmani, said the council hopes to see the fall of the Assad government within six months and to form a transitional administration.

The Istanbul meeting marked the six-month anniversary of the beginning of the uprising against the Syrian government.

At a news briefing here, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner declined the draw a parallel between the Syrian group and the National Transitional Council that replaced Moammar Gadhafi's government in Libya.  But Toner made clear that the United States welcomes the effort to unify the Syrian opposition even as, he said, the Damascus government continues to hunt down, oppress and kill its opponents.

“We applaud these efforts," said Toner. "We look forward to the opposition strengthening as it agrees on things like a unified leadership structure, as it builds consensus and articulates a vision for the future of Syria that incorporates rule-of-law, government by consent of the people and equal rights, as well as economic opportunities for all of Syria's citizens.”

Toner said the United States maintains contact with a wide range of Syrian opposition figures in that country and abroad, but that the U.S. role is not to dictate or direct their actions and policies.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met here early last month with a delegation of Syrian American and exiled Syrian government opponents.  Two weeks later, President Barack Obama condemned Syrian President Assad for “ferocious brutality” against democracy protestors, saying it is time for him to step aside.

The Obama administration has imposed targeted sanctions against more than 30 Syrian government officials, including President Assad, banned U.S. imports of Syrian oil and gas, and frozen all Syrian government assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

On Thursday, the State Department tightened its travel warning for Syria.  Citing political volatility, it urged U.S. citizens now in Syria to leave immediately while commercial transportation is still available.  It advised other Americans to defer all travel to the country.

Earlier this year, the State Department ordered nonessential U.S. embassy personnel and family members to leave Syria.  But the U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, remains at his post.  Officials here say he has few contacts with senior Syrian officials, but that he meets with civil society members and, when possible, opposition activists.  

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid