Syria's opposition concerned about independent armed rebel groups
A member of the opposition's Syrian National Council told reporters in Paris that the council is concerned about the increasingly militarized rebel groups taking matters into their own hands.
A leading Syrian opposition figure says that as rebels become increasingly militarized, it is critical that disparate armed groups be integrated with the political opposition so that they are working in concert.Skip to next paragraph
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Bassma Kodmani, a Syrian-French member of the Syrian National Council's 10-member executive board and the council's spokeswoman, spoke in quiet but urgent terms to a group of foreign correspondents last night, framing the opposition's options as two “sad” alternatives – “greater militarization” of local resistance or foreign intervention.
The request for international assistance may go unanswered for awhile yet. Members of the United Nations Security Council are grappling over an appropriate response to Syria's violent crisis, which began in March 2011 and has resulted in the death of at least 5,500 Syrians, according to the UN. The US, Britain, and France are pushing for more international involvement, but veto-wielding Russia, backed up by China, has blocked efforts to do more.
Ms. Kodmani said Russia “holds the keys to change, and for peaceful change” in Syria. If Moscow “says tomorrow morning that … we are no longer supporting Assad” he would be forced to step down in a matter of weeks, she said.
But that is unlikely, despite reassurances from the SNC that Russian “interests” in Syria would be fully protected if Assad were forced out.
Of the two options facing the opposition, Kodmani said she prefers outside intervention, even if it is unlikely. Most of the Syrian opposition favors this as well, she said. In the absence of intervention, they at least need "inoffensive equipment," such as radios and bulletproof vests.
“I grew up hating NATO,” she says. “I was taught it was the devil. It was unimaginable for decades for any Syrian to even think about asking for [help] from the West.… But now people on the ground want humanitarian intervention. They want to be rescued.”