First Published: 2012-11-13

 

Syria clashes rage as new opposition bloc wins Gulf, Arab recognition

 

GCC six members recognise National Coalition as Arab League gives its backing, although it stops short of granting it full recognition.

 

Middle East Online

What will collapse first: Syrian regime or Syria?

DAMASCUS - Deadly fighting raged near Damascus and in Syria's northeast on Tuesday, 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".

They called on "the rest of the opposition to join" the bloc, and urged "regional and international groups to recognise (it) as a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people".

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, 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.

"We look forward to supporting the National Coalition as it charts a course toward the end of Assad's bloody rule and the start of the peaceful, just, democratic future that all the people of Syria deserve," said the State Department.

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

France said on Tuesday it would support the new opposition bloc, but also fell short of granting it full recognition.

"Now they are united, it's very important... France will support them," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said at a meeting of European and Arab foreign ministers at the League's Cairo headquarters.

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.

"I want to welcome the work done in Doha to build and bring together the opposition, to be inclusive of the people in Syria to be determined in the offer they make to the people," said Ashton.

"But the tragedy of Syria is a tragedy that affects not just that country but the whole region," she added.

Outgunned rebel fighters have been battling to secure a buffer zone along the border with Turkey for the past few months.

And regime warplanes carried out a new wave of bombing raids Tuesday 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.

The Local Coordination Committees activist network said dozens of military vehicles were headed towards Ras al-Ain, while the Observatory reported heavy shelling.

Elsewhere, fierce clashes rocked in the east Damascus suburb of Ghuta and at Daraya to the south after rebel attacks on public buildings and a military checkpoint in the two areas, said the Observatory.

The air strikes in the northwest have sent a new wave of civilians pouring across the frontier to the Turkish side, adding to the 9,000 refugees who already fled late last week when rebels overran Ras al-Ain.

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.

Israel fired across the ceasefire line for a second day on Monday, scoring direct hits on the source of a mortar round that struck the Israeli-occupied part of the territory.

In other violence Tuesday, the army shelled rebel positions in the southern province of Daraa, in the central region of Homs, in Idlib in the northwest and in the northern city of Aleppo, said the Observatory.

At least 151 people were killed across Syria on Monday, including 61 civilians, said the Britain-based Observatory.

The watchdog -- which relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics for its information -- has given an overall death toll of more than 37,000 since the revolt broke out in March 2011.

 

Yemen Huthi rebels bombed for fifth night

One day to Iran nuclear talks deadline

UN warns of horrifying Syria 'catastrophe'

UN chief in Iraq for talks with top officials

At time of war, cigar business launched in Syria

Court finds ex-Israel Premier Olmert guilty in corruption retrial

Deadly air strike hits camp for displaced people in northwest Yemen

Erdogan insists on visit to Iran despite war-of-words

Iran asks for explanation on Erdogan comments

Yemen ex-president's son sacked as ambassador to UAE

Saudi police officers wounded in Riyadh drive-by shooting

World leaders show solidarity with Tunisia in march against extremism

Guarded optimism as Iran nuclear talks close in on deal

Dialogue remains distant as Arabs vow to defeat Iran 'puppet' in Yemen

Egypt renews calls for creation of joint military force at Arab summit

Saudi ambassador to return to Sweden after diplomatic spat

Libya forces ‘withdraw’ from frontline bases near oil ports

Qaeda seizes 'majority' of Syria northwestern city of Idlib

Torturous Iran talks move into top gear in battle of wills

UN Security Council keeps Libya arms embargo in place

Saudi-led airstrikes target arms depots in Yemen capital

Death toll from hotel attack rises as fighting continues in Somalia

Oil prices fall after Yemen-inspired gains

Turkish parliament passes security bill after long debate

Turkey army chief of staff visits historic tomb inside Syria

Saudi-led coalition keeps up raids against Yemen rebels

Assad says open to dialogue with US

US backs Saudi-led intervention in Yemen

Heavy Saudi raids force Sanaa residents to flee

Israeli Arab MP walks for Bedouins

Gulf stocks regain ground after early losses over Yemen

Kerry presses Iran on nuclear deal before deadline

Somali pirates seize Iranian fishing vessel

Borse Dubai sells big stake in London Stock Exchange

Can Arabs form joint military force?

Libya rivals discuss UN-backed peace proposals

French President to join 'anti-terror' march in Tunis

Sisi underscores Egypt’s rights to tap Nile water

US-led coalition aircraft bomb Tikrit

Saudi warplanes strike Yemen rebels in Sanaa

Netanyahu to form Israel new government after shock victory

Turkey military responds to Kurdish attacks in southeast

Leaders see horror of air crash as investigators step up probe

Fistfight in Iraqi Kurdish parliament

Syria rebels seize ancient town of Busra Sham