First Published: 2013-04-22

 

Khatib’s resignation throws Syria opposition into fresh disarray

 

Opposition chief quits over what he sees as world "inaction" to enable Syrians to defend themselves.

 

Middle East Online

Second resignation

DAMASCUS - Syrian opposition chief Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib is determined to step down in the face of what he sees as world "inaction" as government forces recapture territory from the rebels, colleagues said on Sunday.

Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad made advances outside the capital and near the Lebanese border, and a watchdog said that scores of bodies, some disfigured, had been recovered after days of ferocious fighting.

Khatib's renewed threat to quit, almost a month after he first tendered his resignation amid recriminations over the choice of a perceived Muslim Brotherhood nominee as rebel prime minister, threw the opposition into fresh disarray as debate about the wisdom of arming it intensifies.

"I can confirm Khatib's resignation is final," National Coalition member Marwan Hajjo said, following a meeting in Istanbul of the "Friends of Syria" group of Arab and Western governments that support the opposition.

A source close to the Coalition said that its members have already launched consultations in the search for a successor.

Khatib himself posted a short statement on his Facebook page saying: "When a bird is in his cage, he remains imprisoned and paralysed. Yesterday I came out of the cage of deception that I was in."

Hajjo, who heads the Coalition's membership committee, said Khatib was stepping down because of a "lack of real action on behalf of the Syrian people."

"The international community, the Friends of Syria group, should be providing heavy weapons to enable the Syrians to defend themselves," he said.

In Istanbul, the United States pledged to double its aid to the armed opposition, including additional non-lethal military equipment.

But it again held back from agreeing to opposition calls to arm the rebels, amid mounting concerns that weapons deliveries might fall into the wrong hands in a conflict in which Al-Qaeda has played a prominent role on the battlefield.

Assad loyalists made advances on Sunday around the rebel-held town of Qusayr near the Lebanese border.

Opposition activists said the army was backed by militiamen and fighters of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

"Loyalist troops backed by Hezbollah have taken control of important villages near Qusayr," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Four shells fired from the Qusayr area struck the Hermel region of eastern Lebanon, in what rebels described as retaliation for Hezbollah's intervention on the side of the Assad government.

Lebanon's National News Agency reported that three shells hit early on Sunday, while a security official and a resident of the town of Hermel said a fourth struck later in the day.

Qusayr has been under rebel control for more than a year.

"The only reason why the regime is advancing in the Qusayr area is because of Hezbollah's troops. Hezbollah fighters advance on the ground, while the (Syrian) air force gives them cover," Qusayr-based activist Hadi al-Abdallah said via the Internet.

In a meeting with a visiting Lebanese delegation on Sunday, Assad paid tribute to the "Syrian people's resistance and support for the courageous army," the official SANA news agency reported.

Outside Damascus, the army stormed the town of Jdaidet al-Fadl, after five days of fighting in which at least 80 people have been killed, the Observatory said.

Abdel Rahman said he feared the death toll could be higher but that it was difficult to document after the entry of regime forces into the town.

"We call on the International Committee of the Red Cross to send a delegation to Jdaidet al-Fadl in order to investigate," he said.

The Observatory distributed amateur video footage that it said was filmed in the town and that showed the bodies of men laid out on the ground, some with mutilated faces and covered in blood.

 

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Two hardline Syria rebels announce merger

IS kills 25 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk

Sudan frees dozens of activists detained after protests

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt

Are Iranian satellite channels aiding regime change?

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes after rocket attack

Iraq orders deportation of French jihadist

Pro-Assad militias to enter Syria's Afrin

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon

Iran's supreme leader says progress needed on justice

Syria Kurds claim striking positions in Turkey

Netanyahu warns Iran, brandishes piece of metal

66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iranian mountains

Saudi women to open businesses without male permission

Netanyahu slams 'outrageous' Holocaust remark by Polish PM

Israeli air strikes kill 2 in Gaza

Six suffer breathing difficulties after Turkish shelling in Afrin

Russian mercenaries - a discrete weapon in Syria

Iran protests ban on wrestler who threw bout to avoid Israel

Fears of expanding Syrian war could trigger peace deal

Battle to free Mosul of IS 'intellectual terrorism'

Turkey frees Garman-Turk journalist after one year without charge

Turkey hands life sentences to 3 journalists for Gulen links

Turkey, US agree to ‘work together’ in Syria

Thousands protest corruption in Tel Aviv amid PM indictment call

Prominent jihadist commander killed by rival Syria rebels

300 Russians killed in Syria battle last week

Tillerson, Erdogan have ‘productive, open’ talk

Iran raises rates, freezes accounts in bid to shore up rial

Kremlin says five Russians killed in US Syria strikes

Oman FM in rare visit by Arab official to Jerusalem

Senior IS leader extradited to Iraq from Turkey

Strikes hit another hospital in Syria's Idlib

Churches snub Jerusalem reception over tax dispute with Israeli authorities

Tillerson says US never gave 'heavy arms' to Kurdish YPG

Captured foreign IS suspects claim innocence

Yemeni mother awaits death penalty for spying for UAE

Fuel shortage shuts down Gaza's only power plant