Syrian opposition says no longer needs foreign forces

Reuters reports: The Syrian people no longer need the intervention of international forces as rebels push towards the heart of the capital of Damascus to topple President Bashar al-Assad, the new leader of Syria’s opposition told Reuters.

Mouaz al-Khatib, the scion of a Damascene Muslim religious dynasty, said the opposition would consider proposals from Assad to surrender power and leave the country, but would not give any assurances until it saw a firm proposal.

Flanked by bodyguards, al-Khatib was speaking to Reuters on Wednesday night after a meeting of Western and Arab nations with the Syrian opposition in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.

“The horrific conditions which the Syrian people endured prompted them to call on the international community for military intervention at various times”, al-Khatib said.

“Now the Syrian people have nothing to lose. They handled their problems by themselves. They no longer need international forces to protect them. The international community has been in a slumber, silent and late (to react) as it saw the Syrian people bleeding and their children killed for the past 20 months,” the eloquent, soft-spoken opposition leader said.

On Assad, he said: “I only hope that he knows that he has no role in Syria or in the lives of the Syrian people. The best thing is that he steps down and stops drinking the blood of the Syrian people.”

Al-Khatib blamed world and regional powers for the rise of radical Islam in Syria, which has long prided itself on being a tolerant mosaic of ethnic groups. He said the world’s failure to stop Assad’s forces from killing peaceful protesters at the beginning of Syria’s revolt in March 2011 was the root cause.

“The international community is partly responsible for the emergence of some disturbing phenomena because of its negligence towards peoples and nations,” said al-Khatib, who was elected as president of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces last month.

“When a whole people endure killing for 20 months, then groups emerge with radical or extremist views.”

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