| 20.12,11. 03:27 AM |
Syria Opposition Threatens to Seek Arab Military Intervention
Syria's main civilian opposition alliance will ask for an Arab military intervention if President Bashar al-Assad's regime continues its deadly crackdown on protesters, the group's leader said Monday.
The Syrian National Council, which held a conference in Tunis in a bid to close ranks and up the pressure on Assad after nine months of bloodshed, also warned that the regime's acceptance an Arab peace plan was a ploy.
"If the Syrian regime continues its violent repression, the SNC will resort to Arab dissuasion forces. We need to make use of force in a limited way and in specific areas," SNC leader Burhan Ghalioun told reporters in Tunis.
Support for military intervention marks a change of tack for the opposition group, which had until recently sought to oust Assad by supporting street protests and campaigning for his isolation on the international scene.
NATO had made Arab League backing of a no-fly zone a precondition for military intervention in Libya earlier this year but foreign players have so far been reluctant to consider the military option in Syria.
"We want civilians and insurgents to be protected and secure, protected zones to be created," Ghalioun said, stressing that his umbrella group wanted "the Arab world to have a crucial role in the Syrian crisis."
"The Syrian revolution is like a pregnant woman, if cannot have a natural delivery, it will require a C-section to save the baby," he said of the uprising against Assad's rule.
Ghalioun also warned that the Assad regime's belated acceptance of an Arab League observer mission was a delaying tactic.
"The Syrian regime is maneuvering to try to prevent the Syrian file being submitted to the U.N. Security Council," he said. "This is just a ploy. They have no intention of implementing any initiative."
After weeks of prevarication, Syria on Monday pledged full cooperation with the Arab League and agreed to allow the observer mission to monitor a deal to end the crackdown.
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said in Cairo that an advance team of observers would head to Damascus within 72 hours, and the mission will last for a renewable initial period of a month.
"This regime has a great deal of experience in such maneuvering. If it does not commit to carry out the plan, it should be punished," said Radwan Ziada, another leader of the SNC.