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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid