The leader of Syria's opposition coalition called on the country's Alawite minority on Wednesday to launch a campaign of civil disobedience against President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite who faces a mainly Sunni Muslim uprising against his rule.
Mouaz AlKhatib called on Hezbollah in the Morocco meeting to withdraw fighters from Syria, adding that the opposition would hold world powers, particularly Russia, responsible if Assad uses chemical weapons against rebel fighters, and urged Iran to withdraw personnel he said were supporting Assad in the 20-month-old Syrian conflict.
“War crimes in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court,” he added.
The Friends of Syria countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime are to say at a meeting in Morocco that the newly formed opposition coalition is the “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people, a statement shows.
“The participants acknowledged the national coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and the umbrella organization under which Syrian opposition groups are gathering,” said the statement, which is due to be endorsed at the meeting.
Major powers are set to give Syria's opposition full political recognition on Wednesday but not the weapons that opposition fighters need to counter Assad's superior firepower as they gain ground across the country.
The "Friends of Syria," a loose forum of governments opposed to Assad, are meeting in the Moroccan city of Marrakech as the opposition intensify their push on Damascus and signs grow that the 20-month uprising may be nearing a tipping point.
President Barack Obama granted U.S. recognition on Tuesday to a Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, a move aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power.
Russia expressed surprise on Wednesday over U.S. recognition of a Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and said it contradicted efforts to seek political transition in the Middle Eastern nation.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:
“I was somewhat surprised to find out” about the recognition announcement, Lavrov said, quoted by Russian news agencies. “The United States has decided to place all its bets on an armed victory of the (Syrian) National Coalition.”
As Washington cranked up pressure on beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad, the Obama administration also blacklisted the al-Nusra Front, as a terrorist group.
Meanwhile, Syria regime forces bombarded Kafr Batna in the Damascus suburbs with fire bombs, the Syria Media Center reported.