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Syria: A year-long struggle to oust Assad

Syria: A year-long struggle to oust Assad
By Euronews
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Syria’s uprising started on March 15 2011.

After bubbling for several weeks, protests erupted on the streets of cities all over the country as activists called for greater freedoms.

President Bashar al-Assad immediately ordered his military to crush the revolt as it began to take hold, betting that Syria would not be the next domino to fall as part of the Arab Spring.

As the protests and violence spread, key areas came under rebel control.

The severity of the crackdown saw as many as 8,000 people killed over the last year.

Activists took up arms, creating their own Free Syrian Army, to fight back against government oppression. The main opposition Syrian National Council won limited international support.

The UN condemned the repression but China and Russia vetoed resolutions endorsing a call from the Arab League for Assad to step down.

A team of Arab League observers was sent into Syria to report on whether the regime was keeping its promises. However, critics claimed the monitors were toothless, understating the extent of the crackdown. Even envoy Kofi Annan failed to reach agreement with Assad.

A year on, government forces have retaken many rebel-controlled parts of the country. Despite his isolation, many say the West is running out of options to deal with President Assad

Euronews spoke to Moundir Makhos, a member of the Syrian National Council, who deals with the group’s relations with Europe, to get his views one year on from the start of the uprising.

Adel Dellal, euronews: The Syrian opposition is marking the first anniversary of the events in Deraa that led to the wider revolt against Assad’s regime In your view, how is this revolution evolving?

Moundir Makhos: This revolution is entering a decisive phase and up to now it has been dramatic in every sense of the word. This is a real war, a genocide carried out by the regime against its own people, but in a political way. The situation is still complicated. There are signs that something new is developing in the wings – I’m thinking of Kofi Annan’s mission and the Russian position. The speech by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov at the Duma contains many clues. If you try to read between the lines, you can conclude that the Russian position has changed.

Adel Dellal: The National Council, which represents all the Syrian opposition, is divided. What impact might this have on the Council and on the opposition?

Moundir Makhos: Undoubtedly, what’s happening in the Syrian National Council has a negative impact on the opposition but also on the revolution. However, we do not want it to affect the revolution. But if you look at what is happening on the ground, overall, it’s fairly normal. All opposition movements in the world have known divisions.

Adel Dellal: The information given by regional and international groups isn’t very encouraging for the opposition at the moment. What does the opposition want the international community to do in political and military terms?

Moundir Makhos: This is problematic, I agree completely. But the most important thing today is the Syrian opposition. There are two branches of the revolution, the popular uprising and the Free Syrian Army. They’re going through a difficult period and there is an imbalance of forces, but just look back a little at our history. The resistance of the Syrian people is legendary. The inner dynamics of the country will resolve all these issues.

Adel Dellal: And on the question of arming the Free Syrian Army, can it be done?

Moundir Makhos: Yes, the Free Syrian Army doesn’t have a lot of weapons, logistical support or communications. But today, and it’s not a secret, we thank certain Arab countries for their aid. They intend to do their moral and humanitarian duty. The Free Syrian Army will be a real force and become a key element against the regime and its band of criminals.

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