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.

 

Islamist protesters, police clash in Cairo

New Israel party created amid rumours of early elections

French lawmakers to debate recognition of Palestine

Oil prices nosedive in Asia after OPEC refuses to cede ground to US shale

Well-loved Lebanese poet dies aged 102

Jordanians protest against Israel ‘Jewish’ status law

Foreign workers will get more protection in Gulf

Syria, Russia support UN in suspending Aleppo fighting

Powers to push for Iran nuclear deal before new deadline

Iraqi forces, tribesmen battle IS jihadists in Ramadi

Egypt jails 78 minors for pro-Morsi protests

OPEC meets for pivotal decision on oil output

US slams Assad regime for ‘continued slaughter’

Pope to rebuild bridges with Islamic world in Turkey visit

Regime indiscriminate strikes kill scores in Islamic State 'capital' in Syria

Putin meets with Syria Foreign Minister in Black Sea retreat of Sochi

Egypt, France agree to step up cooperation against terrorism

Britain rushes to fight terror with controversial bill

Gunmen kill 3 Egypt policemen in fresh terrorist attack

Iran lawmakers finally approve third Rouhani science minister pick

Turkey clears only suspect in alleged poisoning of former president

Huthis humiliate Al-Ahmar clan with capture of Sanaa headquarters

Christians hold out in Syria second city despite Daesh threat

Libya’s Derna emerges as new IS stronghold

Egypt to reopen Rafah border crossing Wednesday

Egypt leader begins two-day trip to France

Tribesmen blow up Yemen’s main oil pipeline

Russia trims oil output

Lebanese diva Sabah passes away

UN chief calls for halt to Libya air strikes

Syrian air strikes on Raqa kill 63 civilians

17 killed in fatal Cairo building collapse

Egypt nabs five Salafist leaders

Essebsi leads Tunisia presidential vote

Paris pushing for 'safe zones' in war-torn Syria

New air strike hits Tripoli’s sole operational airport

Pentagon chief steps down

Saudi seeks to ‘knock out’ shale oil competitors from oil market

Death toll rises from Morocco flash floods

Yemen troops free 8 hostages from Al-Qaeda

Italy hails Egypt as 'strategic partner'

US Congress skeptical of Iran nuclear talks extension

Khartoum, Darfur rebels open ceasefire talks

Time runs out for biggest chance to resolve Iran nuclear standoff

Egypt leader heads to Italy