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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
International

SYRIA CIVIL WAR

Syria crisis gathers pace

Opposition block gets quick backing from Arabs, EU

Deadly fighting raged near Damascus and in Syria's northeast yesterday, as the Arab League urged more groups to join a newly formed opposition bloc that won swift recognition from the Gulf states.

The Gulf Cooperation Council said its six members recognised the National Coalition as "the Syrian people's legitimate representative", and the Arab League also gave its backing, although it stopped short of granting it full recognition.

The GCC members -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- on Monday became the first to recognise the umbrella group.

And foreign ministers of the 22-member Arab League said at talks in Cairo that they recognised the coalition as "the legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition".

The hard-won coalition deal reached Sunday in Doha, Qatar calls for the opposition to create a supreme military council to take overall command of rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The bloc's newly appointed leader, moderate Muslim cleric Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, said the coalition already had promises of weapons, without specifying from whom.

The United States swiftly declared its backing for the National Coalition following Sunday's deal that brought together a broad spectrum of regime opponents.

Traditional Damascus ally Moscow gave a cooler response, urging the opposition to drop its refusal to negotiate with the Assad regime.

EU Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who addressed the opening session at the League, welcomed the Doha agreement but warned of a spillover of the conflict.

Regime warplanes carried out a new wave of bombing raids yesterday on the strategic town of Ras al-Ain, on the northeastern border, a day after deadly air strikes and shelling, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Elsewhere, fierce clashes rocked in the east Damascus suburb of Ghuta and at Daraya to the south, said the Observatory. More than 151 people were killed in Syria on Monday.

Violence on Syria's borders with Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as across the UN-monitored ceasefire line that splits the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, has stoked fears of a spillover of the 20-month conflict.

At least 151 people were killed across Syria on Monday, including 61 civilians.

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