Syrian opposition calls for unity, continued protests


Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad met in Damascus on Sunday, calling for the continuation of popular protests to overthrow the “tyrannical” regime in power in Syria. “We need to end the tyrannical security regime. We must overthrow the tyranny and the security (agents). We welcome all those who have no blood on their hands,” said Hassan Abdel Azim, a member of the opposition National Coordinating Committee for Democratic Change.
The group, which includes opposition parties of various ideologies, including Arab and Kurdish nationalists, Marxists and independent figures such as writer Michel Kilo and economist Aref Dalila, met near the capital on Saturday to discuss how to end the crisis. Syria has been rocked by protests against Assad that began on March 15 and triggered a brutal crackdown in which the United Nations says 2,600 people have been killed.
The opposition is trying to unite against the regime. Opponents plan to announce the formation of a coalition that includes the Coordinating Committee, liberal parties of the opposition “Damascus Declaration,” the Muslim Brotherhood and independent Islamists.
Several coalitions or councils have also been set up abroad, under the leadership of exiled opposition figures.
“For the overthrow of the tyrannical and corrupt security regime and for democratic change, the peaceful revolution of the Syrian people must continue,” said a statement read by Abd-Azizi Khayer of the Coordinating Committee.
It stressed the need for a “peaceful struggle,” and denounced “the military-security option chosen by the government to suppress peaceful demonstrators.”
To find a way out of the crisis, “we must end the military solution, allow peaceful protests, withdraw the army to the barracks, try those responsible for the massacre of protesters, release all political prisoners and begin reconciliation between the army and the people,” the statement added. Another committee member, Rajaa Nasser, said that “all movements of the Syrian opposition agree on the need for change. The majority reject any military intervention” in Syria, he added.
Samir Aita, editor of Le Monde Diplomatique in Arabic and European representative of the Coordinating Committee, announced a September 23 meeting in the German capital Berlin.
“It is necessary to unify (opposition) efforts for the change to happen,” he said, adding that it was important that the various opposition currents should “unite around common goals.” The meeting on Saturday elected an 80-member central council, with young members representing more than a quarter of the board.