The Edmond Sun

Nation & World

August 24, 2011

Syrian dissidents form national council

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Syrian dissidents meeting here announced Tuesday that they have formed a national council to coordinate their efforts to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The formation of the National Council of Syria was intended to help give an identity to an opposition that despite months of bloody anti-Assad rallies appears largely leaderless and without common goals.

The membership of the council, however, was not specified, though a spokesman said it would include 115 to 120 members from all factions of Syria’s opposition groups. About half of that membership was to be drawn from dissidents inside Syria.

Yaser Tabbara, a spokesman, said the names of those still in Syria likely would remain secret for their own safety.

The announcement of the council’s formation came five days after the United States, after months of delay, called for Assad to resign. U.S. officials had delayed asking for Assad to go in large part, analysts said, because U.S. officials were uncertain who the opposition was and what its goals were. Western European nations joined the United States in demanding that Assad step down.

A similar group, the National Transitional Council, was formed in Libya last spring after demonstrations demanding the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi drew tens of thousands into the streets. The council became the de facto government of eastern Libya after demonstrators stormed Gadhafi military bases, and its chief, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, is expected to lead Libya’s transition to democracy after Gadhafi is defeated.

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