Main opposition group pleads for weapons, urgent military intervention ‘to defend civilians’ from bombardments by Assad’s army.
Middle East Online
MADRID - Syria’s main opposition group pleaded Monday for weapons and urgent military intervention to defend civilians from bombardments by President Bashar al-Assad’s army.
“We need a humanitarian intervention and we are asking for military intervention for the Syrian civilians,” Syrian National Council leader Abdel Basset Sayda said after meeting Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.
“I have the duty of asking for weapons that will allow us to defend against the Syrian armour and weapons that are killing civilians all the time,” he told a joint news conference.
Sayda said the Syrian conflict had now killed 30,000 people and forced millions from their homes, including more than three million internal refugees and 250,000 who had fled the country. Another 100,000 had been detained.
“Every day we have dozens of martyrs and hundreds of wounded and disappeared,” he said in Arabic, addressing journalists through a translator.
“We are seeking very quick action by the international community,” he said.
Syria’s opposition believed the European Union could persuade Russia to change its posture at the UN Security Council so as to establish safe havens for refugees, Sayda said.
Russia, an ally of the Assad regime, and the Security Council’s other veto-wielding members have failed to reach agreement on a proposal to set up protected enclaves for displaced civilians, which would imply authorising a highly controversial protective military operation.
Following criticism that the SNC was not sufficiently representative, Sayda vowed to call a national dialogue so as to forge a unified position on a post-Assad transition to democracy.
“Syria is a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional country and everyone will have a part in its future. We want everything to be organised according to this principle,” he said.
A spokesman for the SNC said on Sunday that the group had agreed to expand its membership and would hold a vote later in September to elect its leadership.
Sayda’s mandate, which was due to expire on September 9, had been extended until the leadership vote, he said.
Spain’s foreign minister condemned the Assad government’s onslaught on Syrian civilians.
“We will do all we can to provide humanitarian help to the Syrian people who are suffering a slaughter,” Garcia-Margallo said.
“The Spanish people view the killings with horror.”
But he urged Syria’s pro-democracy opposition to join forces to avoid a power vacuum.
“In Syria we clearly are talking about a change of regime, Bashar cannot carry on a moment longer for humanitarian reasons,” said the foreign minister.
But “the disappearance of al-Assad cannot be transformed into a power vacuum that could be used by factions,” he added.
“Spain is worried about the unity of the democratic forces,” the minister said. “Our desire: that the democratic forces come together, including all the minorities except for those that opt for violence,” the minister said.