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

    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

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    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