Creation of the Syrian opposition's unity council comes as the US is set to call for a UN resolution to consider further sanctions against Syria if it does not halt the crackdown that has left some 2,700 dead.
The unification of Syrian opposition groups is almost certain to improve coordination with the international community, whose backing could add crucial momentum to the uprising.
Syria's uprising has taken a violent turn as soldiers have abandoned Bashar al-Assad's regime and joined antigovernment protesters.
A Syrian leader who waged jihad in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraq says that a year of reexamining the Quran has caused his group to treat other religions with more tolerance.
Russia has a strong financial stake in the survival of the Assad regime. But it also opposes Western intervention on principle – particularly in the wake of NATO's Libya campaign.
The Arab League yesterday called on Syria's Assad to stop his 'killing machine' as the uprising enters its seventh month. But Assad, still backed by key groups, is unlikely to bow to such calls.
The head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to reforms after a meeting in Damascus this weekend.
A new coalition of Syrian revolutionary groups made a formal request for outside help Thursday, asking first for human rights monitors who could help deter attacks on civilians.
UN Secretary-General Ban expressed frustration about the lack of unity among UN members on how best to deal with Syria's brutal crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising.
The EU announced the embargo on oil imports amid the continued repression of pro-democracy forces in Syria. Western diplomats see renewed efforts at the UN to adopt a resolution on sanctions.