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.

 

Kurd troops launch offensive on IS on three fronts

Ahead of Tunisia elections, Ghannouchi appeals for US support

Indian PM warns US to repeat Iraq 'mistake' in Afghanistan

Israel PM warns Iran poses gravest threat to world

Syrian refugees try their luck in Latin America

Balkans clamp down on jihadist recruitment

Kuwait strips 18 nationals of citizenship

Israel deploys extra forces as two faiths mark major holy days

Egypt, Libya plunge in good governance rating

Saudi Arabia breaks silence on Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

Air strikes fail to halt advance of IS jihadists in Syria

Rival Libya factions meet for reconciliation talks

Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks ‘to resume’ by mid-October

HRW criticises human rights rollback under Erdogan

Syria's Nusra Front chief warns to transfer battle to West

Obama admits to making serious mistake: We underestimated ‘Islamic State’

Germany begins training Kurdish fighters from northern Iraq

Jordan takes ‘precautionary measures’ to secure borders

Egypt acquits 112 on charges of violating protest law

Shiite dissident dies in gun battle with Saudi security forces

Iraq forces repel IS attack on strategic town west of Baghdad

Russia raises suspicions about US ‘military interference’ in Syria

Yemen capital reels under control of Huthi rebels

Dubai Ruler: Victory over ‘Islamic State’ requires three bigger ingredients

Nusra Front threatens retaliation against coalition nations

Nusra Front urges Lebanon to negotiate for captive soldiers

Iran warns ‘Islamic State’: If you advance, we will attack!

Huthis settle score with Yemen national security apparatus

Egypt postpones verdict in murder case against Mubarak

US-led coalition expands campaign against ‘Islamic State’ in Syria

Yemen Shiite rebels urged to pull out of capital

Time for Iraq's Christians to put up fight against jihadists

Arrests prompt clashes in Arab east Jerusalem

Britain nabs more Islamist suspects

How much is cost of US air war on IS?

France seeks to put Ansar al-Sharia on UN blacklist

Iraqi PM roots out top brass

Iran President slams blunders of West in Middle East

Huthis in Yemen: Shiite rebels or pawns in Iran vicious game?

France pursues ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq after hostage beheading

Kuwait court declines to rule in case of pro-opposition TV owner

Strikes against ‘Islamic State’ put Jordan in 'danger zone'

Latest victims of IS in Tikrit: Reputed mosque and ancient church

Tensions high as Lebanon army raids Syria refugee camps

Palestinian unity talks yield ‘breakthrough’ on number of issues