Dec 18 (Washington) – Syrian opposition called for a practical international action in Syria warning the West of the consequences of an indifferent position toward the events in that country, a week after an opposition leader pressed the army defectors to stop attacks on pro-government troops.
The Free Syrian Army, a group of army deserters, have stepped up its attacks on security forces in recent weeks,
raising the possibility of Syria slipping into a civil war, and have killed tens of Syrian soldiers in series of deadly attacks on state forces.
“We want Syria’s issue becomes international,” Chairman of
the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria Ammar al-Qurabi said in an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) warning “the threat for the West is that Assad leads Syria toward a civil war or he turns Syria into a base for al-Qaeda, if this revolution gets longer.”
The United Nations said more than 5,000 people have been killed in government’s crackdown on street protests. President Assad has denied any orders were issued to kill demonstrators and said rebels have killed 1,100 of his forces.
According to an activist group, army deserters killed 27 soldiers in southern Syria on Thursday, in one of the deadliest attacks on forces loyal to the President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the popular uprising nine months ago.
Syria’s main opposition bloc the Syrian National Council has urged the three-month-old Free Syrian Army, to limit its operations to protect the civilians and to avoid of the offensive actions on the state security forces.
“We call for international support of the Syrian civilians by creating a safe zone for the Free Syrian Army as well as military and logistic aids,” a spokesman of The Free Syrian Army Ammar al-Wawi said in VOA’s Persian news-talk Ofogh (Horizon) on the same event.
He also said the number of The Free Syrian Army members was estimated about 40 thous
ands and are mainly stationed in north of Syria.
Younes al-Sattar, another member of The Free Syrian Army who participated in the Ofogh debate, stressed on the need of “a buffer zone to supply arms” to the army defectors and said “We want the West to make a major decision in this regard. We need a 25-kilometer-width area along the borders with Turkey.”
US vs IRAN
Syria's foreign backers in the U.N. Security Council, Russia and China, had blocked Western efforts to secure Council condemnation of Damascus, but Russia’s new draft resolution proposed to the Security Council on Thursday condemned the violence in Syria and raised hopes the Council will end its relative silence over crackdown on protestors.
The United States, which had already urged the U.N. Security Council to respond to the rising death toll blaming Assad's forces for using violence against the protestors, said Washington is ready to work with Moscow on the proposal.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after a meeting with top members of opposition Syrian National Council in Geneva on December 6 that the Syrians must not only remove Assad but also advance towards the rule of law.
Washington announced earlier in December it was sending Ambassador Robert Ford back to Damascus six weeks after he was withdrawn for safety reasons. Ford had angered Syrian officials with his public displays of support for protesters.
“The United States should play a more important role in Syria’s affairs, as it did in Libya just in two weeks,” said the rights activist al-Qurabi as Brigadier General al-Wawi warned Iran, Iraq and Lebanon of interfering in Syria’s internal affairs urging them to stand beside the Syrian nation.
“Iran interferes in Syria’s internal affairs, either politically or by dispatching members of the Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia into Syria,” al-Wawi said adding “the (Iraq-based) Mehdi Army or the (Leban
on’s) Hezbollah who have entered in Syria are also backed by Iran.”
Tehran denies any involvement in Syria’s state matters and calls the popular uprising in Syria a “sedition” plotted by the West. A downfall of Assad could deal a strategic blow to Shi'ite regional power Iran, where confrontation toward Israel remains one of its overriding foreign policy principles.
“Iran aims to play with public opinion by inviting a group of Syrian activists, who are in fact the supporters of the Syrian regime, to Tehran. But despite their claims, those people are not representatives of the Syrian nation at all,” al-Wawi said.
Iran has rejected sending any invitation to a group of Syrian opposition to visit Tehran and instead announced its willingness to strengthen economic ties with Damascus, which is under the U.S., EU and the Arab League sanctions.
“There are many documented reasons for interference of Iran, Hezbollah and Muqtada Sadr’s group in Syria,” said the rights activist al-Qurabi adding Iranian currencies and identification cards were also confiscated from some of those who were arrested by revolutionary forces.
President Assad still has significant support in Syria despite the violent street unrest. Many Syrians have not taken sides, fearing chaos or sectarian war.
The United States and the European Union ha
ve called on Assad to step down in order to stop the violence and let a free and democratic election be held to form a new government in that country.
“They should know that Syrian people will remain, but this regime will collapse soon,” al-Wawi warned Iranian officials.