New Alliance Further Fractures Syria Opposition
CAIRO (Reuters) - Exiled Syrian politicians unveiled a new opposition alliance on Tuesday and asked one of its members to form a transitional government in a challenge to the Syrian National Council, another group that has said it will do the same.
The launch of the "Council for the Syrian Revolution" marks the latest effort by an opposition plagued by divisions to forge a political alternative to President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces are trying to put down a 16-month armed uprising.
"The brothers have asked me to form a transitional government in Syria and to begin dialogue with the rest of the Syrian opposition," Haitham al-Maleh, an opposition activist, told a Cairo news conference called to unveil the new body.
Maleh told Reuters the new alliance would act as an alternative to the SNC which he said "had failed to help the Syrian revolution". He said the new alliance would work to offer more help to rebels on the ground.
Western and Arab states have been urging the Syrian opposition to unite for months. While the SNC has been an international voice for the opposition, activists on the ground have complained that the exiled leadership has little connection to what is happening in Syria.
Maleh resigned from the SNC in March, saying he had given up trying to make the group a more effective player in the revolt against Assad. Maleh is a former judge and a long-standing dissident against the Assad family's four decades in power.
"We are not asking for military intervention, such as an invasion, but international protection, such as stopping Syrian planes," he said. Western air support helped Libyan rebels to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year.
The Syrian military has stepped up a campaign to drive rebels out of Aleppo, the country's biggest city. Outgunned rebel fighters are facing much heavier weapons including helicopter gunships.
"When Aleppo is freed, we will have the northern part of Syria and will ask (the opposition) to return home," Maleh said during the news conference.
The new alliance comprises 70 opposition figures.
"The movement includes members from the Syrian National Council yet its formation is meant to also tell the council that it is not the only body entitled to act on behalf of all the opposition," said Ahmed Jalal el-Sayed, one of its members.
(Writing by Tom Perry; editing by David Stamp)
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