Syrian Opposition: Assad Government Must Go
July 24, 2012
by Margaret Besheer
The spokesman for the Syrian National Council says the main opposition grouping is still demanding President Bashar al-Assad leave power, denying that the coalition would consider having someone from the current government temporarily lead a political transition.
His comments come as violence continued Tuesday in several Syrian cities, including fierce fighting in the old section of Aleppo.
Syrian National Council spokesman George Sabra told VOA by phone from Paris Tuesday that he had been misquoted in an earlier news report in which he was reported to have said the SNC would agree to the departure of President Assad and the transfer of his powers to a regime figure, who would temporarily lead a transitional period.
“There is not any change with the position and opinion of SNC about the regime and the transition period,” he said. “The transition period should start after leaving Bashar al-Assad and his regime the power.
“And the principle of this transition period has been announced in a document issued by the most parties of the opposition in that meeting which has been held two weeks ago in Cairo,” Sabra said. “So nothing new about this thing.”
The opposition meeting earlier this month in Cairo was marked by squabbling among delegates.
But ultimately a plan emerged for a framework for a post-Assad political transition period that includes an interim government and parliament.
SNC spokesman Sabra indicated that talks continue within the opposition about the way forward if and when President Assad leaves power.
“We are discussing now between us in the council, and also with the Free Syrian Army, about the idea of the transition document,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Syria, opposition activists reported that heavy fighting continued between rebels and government forces in the country’s second largest city and commercial hub, Aleppo.
Activists say fighting was underway in several neighborhoods and 15 people were killed as security forces put down a prison mutiny in the city.
The opposition-run Local Coordination Committees also reported Tuesday that government forces were shelling areas outside Damascus, as well as in Homs, and in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama joined other world figures in warning Syria against using chemical weapons.
Obama’s comments came after a Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the government would never use chemical weapons against its own people, but would unleash them against what he called foreign invaders. He said the military is securely guarding the nation’s weapons stockpile.
Syrian activists say more than 19,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March of last year.