Assad regime on ‘last legs’, says new opposition chiefAgence France-Presse . Damascus
The Syrian opposition’s new leader said on Sunday that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was on its ‘last legs,’ even as Russia warned it would block any move at the UN to use force against its ally.
Britain declined to rule out military intervention, despite the strong opposition of China and Russia, as the death toll from the more than 15-month uprising topped 14,100, according to a human rights watchdog.
‘We are entering a sensitive phase. The regime is on its last legs,’ Kurdish activist Abdel Basset Sayda told AFP shortly after he was named as the new leader of the opposition Syrian National Council.
‘The multiplying massacres and shellings show that it is struggling,’ he added in allusion to a spate of mass killings of civilians, the most recent of which saw 20 people, most of them women and children, killed in the bombardment of a residential area of the southern city of Daraa on Saturday.
Sayda was elected as the SNC’s new leader at a conference in Istanbul, replacing the opposition’s first leader, Paris-based academic Burhan Ghalioun, who stepped down last month in the face of mounting splits that were undermining the group’s credibility.
Activists accused Ghalioun of ignoring the Local Coordination Committees, which spearhead anti-government protests on the ground in Syria, and of giving the Muslim Brotherhood too big a role.
Sayda, who has lived in exile in Sweden for two decades, is seen as a consensus candidate capable of reconciling the rival factions within the SNC and of broadening its appeal among Syria’s myriad of ethnic and confessional groups.
The 55-year-old does not belong to any political party and, although his name is not familiar to many Syrians, SNC officials say he is a ‘conciliatory’ figure, ‘honest’ and ‘independent’.
The opposition grouping has been criticised for not representing the full diversity of Arabs, Kurds, Sunni Muslims, Alawites, Christians, Druze and other ethnic and religious groups in Syria.
Asked about his ambitions as SNC leader, Sayda said the opposition bloc ‘would focus its efforts on the international community to take a decisive move against the regime.’
‘We want to strengthen links with activists on the ground and the (rebel) Free Syrian Army, who we will support with all our means’, he said.
‘The Annan plan still exists but it has not been implemented,’ he added, in reference to a peace blueprint thrashed out by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan that was supposed to begin with a ceasefire from April 12 but which has been violated daily.
‘We will work for this plan to be included under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to force the regime to implement it and to leave all options open,’ he said.
The violence has intensified in Syria despite the presence of 300 United Nations observers charged with monitoring a truce that was supposed to take effect from April 12.
comments powered by Disqus