First Published: 2013-05-30


Syria opposition to boycott Geneva summit: No talks in times of ‘invasion’


Main opposition group says it will not take part in peace talks as long as Iran-Hezbollah militias continue their invasion of Syria.


Middle East Online

‘Lives are more important than any political solution’

ISTANBUL - Syria's main opposition group said Thursday it will not take part in proposed US-Russia peace talks while key allies of President Bashar al-Assad's regime are waging war alongside government forces.

"The National Coalition will not take part in any international conference or any such efforts as long as the militias of Iran and Hezbollah continue their invasion of Syria," the opposition's acting chief George Sabra told reporters in Istanbul.

"Today, Syrians' lives are more important than any political solution or any international conference," Sabra added.

It has taken the divided opposition meeting in Istanbul a week to find common ground on the so-called Geneva 2 peace conference proposed by Moscow and Washington in hopes of ending more than two years of conflict estimated to have killed more than 94,000 people.

The group has previously said it was open in principle to any peace initiatives.

Sabra's comments follow Syrian army advances in areas where Lebanese Shiite militia group Hezbollah has joined troops loyal to Assad.

"In light of this savagery, any talk of an international conference or a political solution in Syria is just meaningless chatter," he said.

His statement came hours after the National Coalition launched an urgent appeal to rescue 1,000 wounded civilians from the town of Qusayr in central Syria.

Government troops and Hezbollah fighters have been battling for more than a week to retake Qusayr from rebel hands.

Rebel sources say the army has also made new advances east of Damascus in the past week, in a bid to crush the rebellion there.

Sabra said it was in the hands of the international community, "especially in the hands of (rebel backers) the Friends of Syria", to help stop an army advance on Qusayr and the Eastern Ghouta area near Damascus.

He called on the United Nations and the Arab League to "act immediately and seriously to stop... the continuous massacres".

"We cannot understand or accept that people are being killed in such a savage way while the international community is silent," Sabra added.

The Coalition's chief meanwhile reiterated a call to Lebanese President Michel Sleiman to stop Hezbollah from aiding Assad's troops.

"We remind the Lebanese president and the Lebanese people that a party with government and parliament representation is taking part in this ugly crime," said Sabra.


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