Syria opposition recognised in Morocco meeting

Western officials are due to meet commanders of a newly formed rebel military command in Turkey next week.

Syria opposition recognised in Morocco meeting

World Bulletin / News Desk

Arab and Western nations sympathetic to Syria's uprising against President Bashar al-Assad gave full political recognition on Wednesday to the opposition, reflecting a hardening consensus that the 20-month-old uprising might be nearing a tipping point.

Meeting in the Moroccan city of Marrakech as rebels battled Assad's troops on the outskirts of his Damascus power base, the "Friends of Syria" group called on Assad to step aside and warned him against using chemical weapons.

At the same meeting, the leader of Syria's opposition coalition called on the Alawite minority to launch a campaign of civil disobedience against Assad, an Alawite who faces a mainly Sunni Muslim uprising against his rule.

Hours earlier, President Barack Obama announced that Washington would now recognise the newly formed coalition of opposition groups as Syria's legitimate representative, joining Turkey, France, Britain and Gulf states.

"Participants acknowledge the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and the umbrella organisation under which the Syrian opposition are gathering," said a draft declaration of the Marrakech meeting obtained by Reuters.

The gathering brings together many Western and Arab nations opposed to Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for 42 years. But it excludes Russia, China and Iran, which have backed Assad or blocked efforts to tighten international pressure on him.

"Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy and should stand aside to allow a sustainable political transition," said the text.

Participants announced the creation of a relief fund "to support the Syrian people", calling on states and organisations to make contributions to the fund.

Brotherhood deputy leader Farouq Tayfour, speaking in Marrakech, said recent military gains by the rebels meant that Assad's end was rapidly approaching.

"What is happening on the battlefield is very significant," he told Reuters. "The decline of the regime has started."

"The rebels are now much closer to the palace. Bashar is under siege. His end will be like Gaddafi's end. Didn't Bashar say, 'I was born in Syria and will die in Syria'? This is what Gaddafi said as well, and that's it."

Opposition coalition member Abdelbasset Sida said diplomatic recognition in Marrakech would not be enough. "We need military support. A transitional phase has started, and we need the means to defend the liberated parts of Syria from regime strikes."

France said at the talks it was not ready to supply arms.

"For now we have decided not to move on this," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in Morocco. "We shall see in the coming months."

Western officials are due to meet commanders of a newly formed rebel military command in Turkey next week.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Aralık 2012, 17:53