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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid