Syrian opposition to launch national council to fight Assad regime


Opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-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 remainder in exile,” dissident Obeida al-Nahhas told AFP.

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.”