Syrian opposition calls for no-fly zone to protect civilians


A coalition representing dozens of Syrian opposition groups called Tuesday for the international community to back a no-fly zone to protect civilians from a crackdown by President Bashar Al Assad’s regime.

The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a coalition representing some 40 opposition blocs protesting what they call ‘crimes against humanity’ in the regime’s attack on pro-democracy activists, said at a press conference in Washington it did not seek foreign military intervention on Syrian soil.

But the group said instead it sought ‘international intervention in the form of a peacekeeping mission,’ in the face of a government it said had brought in the armed forces ‘in order to implement a system of repression and mass extermination.’

Attorney Martin MacMahon, lead counsel for activist group the Syrian Emergency Task Force, who filed a lawsuit against the Syrian government and several prominent officials linked to the Assad regime, also told reporters the civil suit against the government that ‘brutally represses’ its citizens was ongoing.

The US-based Task Force also called for an arms embargo that would require states, especially those neighboring the Middle Eastern nations, to inspect cargo to and from Syria, said British barrister Toby Cadman, an advisor to both Task Force and General Commission.

A statement signed off by both activist groups, calling for the no-fly sign, embargo and asset freeze, was to be delivered to the office of the United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, the UN Security Council (UNSC), and US President Barack Obama.

The fragmented opposition movement in Syria has struggled to present a united front in recent months, as movements within the country and groups abroad scrambled to voice their dissent of the crackdown in which the United Nations says more than 2,700 people have been killed.

European powers at the UN earlier Tuesday announced a new resolution on the Syria crackdown that urged a threat of sanctions rather than demanding international measures.

Key UNSC members Russia and China however have threatened to veto any sanctions resolution brought to the 15-nation council, which has so far only agreed statements.