News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition Groups Demand President Step Down

Opponents of the Syrian regime demonstrate with a national flag after their meetings on Turkey's Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya, June 2, 2011
Opponents of the Syrian regime demonstrate with a national flag after their meetings on Turkey's Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya, June 2, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Syrian opposition groups ended a two-day meeting in Turkey on Thursday with the demand that President Bashar al-Assad step down. Opposition activists are also calling for protests nationwide Friday, despite the ongoing military crackdown.

Syrian opposition leaders are demanding that President Assad resign immediately and transfer power to his vice president, pending formation of a transition council to move towards democracy.

A communiqué by the 300 opposition delegates to a conference in Turkey proclaimed that they “have committed to the demands of the Syrian people to bring down the regime.”

Milhem Droubi of the Muslim Brotherhood insisted that the initial demands of reform by the opposition are no longer enough and that now its leaders are calling for the regime to be replaced.

He says that today’s demands are different from those of yesterday, because blood has been spilled. President Assad, he argues, must apologize after hundreds of men, women and children were killed, and the opposition will not excuse these acts committed against the people. The opposition, he insists, agrees with the people that the regime must be toppled.

Droubi added that the Syrian government must also pay compensation to families of victims, free all political prisoners, send its soldiers back to barracks, authorize peaceful demonstrations and set up an election process.

Syrian Opposition Groups Demand President Step Down
Syrian Opposition Groups Demand President Step Down

Meanwhile, government troops continued to pound the town of Rastan with field artillery and tank shells Thursday, leaving the town without electricity, water and phones for a sixth straight day. Opposition activists said at least 15 people were killed in the last 24 hours.

Despite the crackdown, the Syrian government announced Wednesday that it was setting up a National Dialogue Committee to allow Syrians to debate their political future.  An amnesty was also announced for hundreds of political prisoners, including those of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ahmed Haj Ali, a pro-government analyst in Damascus, told the U.S.-funded al-Hurra TV that it is not clear which activists will represent the opposition, and who would participate in the debate.

He says there are many questions about who represents the authentic opposition and they must be examined in the coming days. He notes that the presidential pardon just issued allows opponents to return home and become part of the political process if they chose to do so.

Elsewhere, in Libya, NATO warplanes hit a series of targets in the capital Tripoli overnight.  NATO indicated that munitions depots, military vehicles, a missile launcher and a radar unit were hit.

People stand near destroyed cars after an explosion at Tibesti hotel in Benghazi, Libya June 1, 2011
People stand near destroyed cars after an explosion at Tibesti hotel in Benghazi, Libya June 1, 2011

Libyan government TV also reported that an explosion took place in front of the courthouse in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi Thursday. An explosion Wednesday in front of Benghazi’s Tibesti Hotel resulted in minor damage. A rebel spokesman accused Gadhafi “agents” of sabotage.

The head of the rebel Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, insisted that Gadhafi's loyalists must stop collaborating with him, or face the consequences.

He warns that those who work for Mr. Gadhafi's regime are being given the chance to change sides, but that if they chose not to do so, they will be legitimate targets for retribution.

Off the Tunisian coast, several hundred people are missing after a boat carrying nearly 800 refugees from Libya to Europe sank off of Tunisia's Kerkennah island this week.

Witnesses say the boat foundered in heavy seas as passengers stampeded to board inflatable life rafts. The survivors, mostly migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, were taken to a camp along the border with Libya.

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

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs