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.

 

Bloodshed in Gaza surges amid no truce

Major western powers call for Libya ceasefire

UN warns buying oil from terrorists could lead to sanctions

Syria rebels advance towards Hama military airport

Emirates airline to avoid flying over Iraq

Italian fire-fighting planes to come to Libya rescue

US-Israeli ties sink to new depths over Gaza war

Air Algerie crash black boxes sent to France

Warning of Tripoli catastrophe after huge oil depot blaze

US, UN call for immediate Gaza ceasefire

Egypt army kills 14 jihadists in restive Sinai Peninsula

Calls for temporary Gaza ceasefire fall on deaf ears

Yemen army foils new Qaeda attempt to seize military posts

Investigators need ‘few days’ to probe cause of Algeria plane crash

Tunisia army suffers more losses in open war with terrorism

Jihadists advance amid escalation in Syria anti-regime offensive

Iraq Shiite militia takes bloody revenge against ‘Islamic State’ in Baquba

Fierce clashes kill at least 38 people in Benghazi

Israel resumes devastating military assault on Gaza

Thousands face famine as food security situation worsens in Somalia

Death toll in Gaza climbs as fragile ceasefire reveals destruction

Egypt summons Turkey charge d'affaires for second time in one week

‘Islamic State’ jihadists dynamite Shiite shrine in Mosul

US evacuates embassy staff in Libya over ‘real risk’

Investigators begin 'difficult' probe into Air Algerie plane disaster

Armed men snatch Head of Baghdad Provincial Council

‘Islamic State’ beheads Syrian soldiers in Raqa

Kerry in Paris for talks on long-term Gaza truce

Hezbollah chief speaks out on Gaza

Two rival Islamic states in Syria power struggle

Crete protest against Syria chemicals destruction in Mediterranean

74 killed in IS assault on Syria regime territory

Iran confirms arrest of Washington Post correspondent

Somali 'Shebab commanders' killed in AU offensive

Paris: survivors of Air Algerie jet crash 'unlikely'

Jordan shots down drone near Syria border

Gaza civilian toll spiralling to above 800

UN urges Europe to tackle Mediterranean migrant crisis

From Israel with ‘virus’: Death threat letter reaches Palestinian mission in France

Ordeal of ‘apostasy’ woman ends with departure from Sudan

Another bloody day as Israel targets civilians in UN-run school

‘Islamic State’ launches multiple attacks on Syria army

Attack on Egypt army post bears fingerprints of foreign intelligence

Harassment of Christians escalates in Islamist-run Sudan

Air Algerie plane goes missing over Mali