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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs