Syrian Opposition to Launch 'National Council'

Opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad were meeting Saturday in Istanbul to launch a "national council" to coordinate the fight against the Damascus regime, organizers said.

Participants in two days of meetings in an Istanbul hotel, from both inside and outside Syria, planned to set up working groups and draft measures aimed at ousting Assad, who was targeted by new international sanctions on Friday.

"The Syrian national council will have between 115 and 150 members, more than half of whom are in Syria, with the reminder in exile," dissident Obeida al-Nahhas told Agence France Presse.

Emerging from more than eight weeks of talks between opposition groups, the council's objective was to "make the voice of the Syrian revolution and its demands heard by the international community," he said.

"It must incarnate the aspirations of the Syrian revolution and establish its political aims."

Nahhas said the council would have seven or eight committees to handle such issues as foreign affairs, political planning, economic matters and the media.

A Turkish source said security measures would be taken to ensure the meeting passed off without problems.

On Friday a group of "revolutionary blocs" announced the formation of a coalition called the Syrian Revolution General Commission, vowing to bring down the regime.

It said the coalition was set up due to "the dire need to unite the field, media and political efforts" of the pro-democracy movement.

A total of 44 groups had signed up to join the SRGC as part of "merging all visions of all revolutionaries from all coalitions and coordinators mutually focusing primarily on toppling the oppressive and abusive regime."

The long-term aim of the coalition is also to build "a democratic and civil state of institutions that grants freedom, equality, dignity and respect of human rights to all citizens," a statement said.

The SRGC was "the result of merging all the signatory Syrian Revolution blocs both inside and outside Syria and those who are invited to join as well in order to have through this commission a representation of the revolutionaries all over our beloved Syria," it said.

The coalition urged all groups involved in the pro-democracy movement to close ranks and join them "to achieve the goals of the revolution and bring out its voice to all corners of the world."

Signatories included protest committees from across Syria, including flashpoint cities and towns, as well as The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page, one of the drivers of the protests.

Syrian dissidents have held several meetings in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey in recent weeks as Assad's regime stepped up its crackdown on protestors across the country.

The civilian death toll has now passed 2,000, U.N. under Secretary General B. Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council on Thursday.

Source: Agence France Presse

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.