Syrian legislators join anti-Assad uprising

January 18th, 2012

Two members of parliament flee and declare support for opposition as activists report more deaths across country – Published on english Al Jazeera, January 16, 2012.

Nawaf al-Bashir, a tribal leader and MP from Deir Ezzor, told Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV on Monday that he had “come to Turkey to activate the opposition”. He said he was a member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the most prominent opposition bloc.  

Bashir’s announcement came a day after MP Imad Ghalioun, who represented the central city of Homs, also told Al-Arabiya that he had fled to Cairo.

He called Homs “disaster stricken” and said the city has been subjected to sweeping human-rights violations. Homs has been one of the most volatile regions in Syria since the uprising against Assad began in March … //

… The SNC statement said further meetings would be held involving military experts “to strengthen the capacity of the FSA against regime forces and to protect civilian regions which the regime wants to raid or pillage”.

The talks also focused on efforts to “restructure FSA units and create a modern and flexible structure … to allow for rapid deployment” and cope with the daily inflow of deserting officers and soldiers.

The FSA claims to have gathered some 40,000 fighters under its command since March.

On the diplomatic front, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, reiterated on Monday a call for Assad to “stop killing, and listen to his people”.

During a visit to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, he said: “I hope the UN Security Council handles Syria in a coherent manner and with a sense of gravity”, but did not recommend any specific action.

“The casualties have reached such an unacceptable stage, we cannot let the situation continue this way,” Ban said.

Assad issued a decree granting amnesty to anyone who committed crimes “in the context of the events taking place since March 15, 2011, till the date of issuing the decree”, SANA reported on Sunday.

Assad has freed 3,952 prisoners since the outbreak of the uprising, SANA said. The opposition, however, says there are thousands more held incommunicado in Syrian prisons.

Assad has made similar decrees on three previous occasions in May, June and November. (full text and a 1.54-minutes video).

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