Opposition form Council
The Syrian opposition have formed a council based in Turkey as of Monday 29th August. Some sources are calling it a National Transitional Council (as in Libya) and others the Syrian National Council.
Whatever its name, the council is said to have 94 members of whom 42 are inside Syria. Several reports are suggesting that the council is to be headed by Burhan Ghalioun, a sociologist based in Paris. Protest groups across Syria are said to have been consulted before the decision was taken, with the new council reflecting the different groups.
Meanwhile armed forces continued their crackdown around the country with a series of towns being targeted. In a new twist to the story, some members of the armed forces are said to have defected to the rebel side.
One video posted on the internet by members of the army calling themselves the Syria Free Army are being led by Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Saffar Yousef. During the video he says “We tell the army units taking part in raiding cities and villages they are not our target, because they are the sons of this nation and we are supposed to protect it. We are after the criminal gangs of thugs and security forces who kill innocent people.”
The main headline in SANA, the Syrian News Agency, is a letter from the Russian president delivered by Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
The news agency reports, ‘Talks during the meeting discussed the developments in Syria, with President al-Assad expressing great appreciation of Russia’s balanced stance regarding these developments.
President al-Assad pointed out that each step taken by Syria in issuing laws that lay the basis for a new political stage was followed by an escalation of the regional and international campaign against Syria’s Arab and regional role.
In turn, Bogdanov voiced his country’s support of the reform process undertaken by Syria in the political and economic fields, adding that Russia hopes for lasting security and stability.’
A statement issued on the President of Russia website concerning the letter states, ‘During the discussion that took place on the situation in Syria, Russia’s main emphasis was on the need for all sides to cease all violence immediately and take urgent concrete steps to implement the reforms announced by Syria’s leadership. Russia also stressed that the opposition should accept to take part in the dialogue the authorities propose, as this is the only possible way of restoring civil peace and harmony and setting Syria on a steady path towards democratic transformation’.