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Syrian President Bashar Al Assad will face a fatal and bloody ending similar to that of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, according to Haitham Maleh, a leading Syrian opposition member.

“The continuous relentless brutality of Syrian forces against civilians has relinquished Al Assad’s option to a peaceful exit,” Maleh, who is a top figure in the Syrian National Council, said.

The regime lost its legitimacy a “long time ago” and will collapse “within weeks”, he said.

Al Assad’s actions will seal his own fate as it was “his choice” to use the military option.

“The people who lost their families and children will not let him or his family go safely,” he said.

Speaking to Gulf News, Maleh said he had sent several messages to Al Assad through the media asking him to leave peacefully but to no avail. “I know the Syrian people are paying a very high price but there is no way to turn off the revolution,” he said.

It is estimated that 7,000 people have been killed since the uprising began last year and more than 2,000 have been killed since the recent escalation of government attacks on restive cities, particularly the Baba Amr district of Homs in which two foreign journalists were killed on Wednesday.

As the fall of Al Assad is inevitable, said Maleh, when caught Al Assad should be taken to court. However, he said depending on how he is caught, he might succumb to the wrath of the people who lost their families.

Maleh downplayed fears of a sectarian backlash following the regime’s collapse, in a country of a majority of Sunnis and minority Alawite, Druze, Kurdish and Christian populations.

“If there is violence in the aftermath of the collapse it will be between Al Assad supporters and the Free Syria Army, not sectarian,” he said.

Speaking on the capabilities of the Free Syria Army, Maleh said top military defectors have developed a concrete strategy along with the Syrian National Council to defeat the regime militarily and politically.

‘Growing every day’

“Despite the imbalance in equipment and numbers the Free Syria Army has proven its ability to last and drag the fight on over the course of a year which has exhausted the regime,” he said. Maleh estimates the current number of soldiers in the Free Syria Army to be around 25,000, but says that it is growing every day.

“With the amount of defections we are expecting the number to swell to 100,000 very soon,” he said.

Financially, the Syrian National Council is being funded by Turkey, Qatar and Cairo, and Paris will soon be contributing as well, according to Maleh. The United Nation’s General Assembly has overwhelmingly condemned Al Assad’s crackdown, however, the Security Council has been in deadlock because of vetoes from Russia and Syria.

Maleh described the world reaction to the crisis in Syria as “very slow” despite the condemnations.

“The UN General Assembly vote along with the Arab League decision to cut diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime is a clear and unequivocal message to Al Assad that he is facing international isolation over the crackdown,” he said. The Friends of Syria meeting today in Tunis will be a “turning point” for the Syrian revolution as around 80 countries will be participating to explore different options to further isolate the regime.

The Syrian National Council has called for an Arab boycott of Russian and Chinese goods to pile the pressure on the regime. It has also called for Syrian expatriates to protest in front of Russian and Chinese embassies. “I believe that Russia will stop supporting Al Assad once they feel that it will be too expensive to keep him,” Maleh said.

The Syrian National Council is also expected to be recognised as the sole representative of the Syrian people during the meeting on Friday in Tunis.

Gulf News

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