Syrian Opposition Groups Create National Council to ‘Overthrow’ Assad

Posted October 2nd, 2011 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Syria's major opposition groups have created a national council aimed at unifying their efforts to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Opposition figure Bourhan Ghalioun announced formation of the Syrian National Council on Sunday, at the end of a meeting of Syrian dissidents in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

He said the council unites opposition groups inside and outside Syria in pursuing what it calls the aspirations of the Syrian people for the “peaceful” overthrow of the Assad government.

Ghalioun said the council rejects foreign interference in Syria. But, he appealed for international protection of Syrian civilians from what he said is a government “war” against them.

Mr. Assad's government has been using military force to try to crush almost seven months of largely peaceful opposition protests demanding an end to his 11-year autocratic rule.

The United Nations says at least 2,700 people have been killed in the crackdown. The Syrian government says the dead include hundreds of security personnel killed by what it calls “armed terrorist groups.”

The newly-formed Syrian National Council comprises a general assembly, a general secretariat and an executive committee whose members will chair the council on a rotating basis.

A broad range of Syrian opposition groups have joined the council. Its members include representatives of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, secular groups, Kurdish factions, the pro-democracy Damascus Declaration group based in the Syrian capital, and the Local Coordination Committees, which have led Syrian street protests.

In the latest crackdown on dissent, Syrian government troops regained control of the central town of Rastan on Saturday, after several days of fighting insurgents, including army defectors who joined the opposition. The army defectors retreated from the town ahead of the government takeover.