Dissident urges al-Assad to hand over to his deputy

Dissident urges al-Assad to hand over to his deputy

Dissident urges al-Assad to hand over to his deputy

Syrians look at a destroyed military tank at the northern town of Ariha, on the outskirts of the northwestern province of Idlib. AP photo

The new leader of Syria’s exiled opposition called yesterday on President Bashar al-Assad to transfer power to his deputy Faruq al-Shara, the Anatolia news agency reported.

“Assad should leave office to his vice president,” said Abdulbesat Seida, new head of the Syrian National Council. Seida claimed the Syrian leadership was losing its control of the country day by day, adding: “The regime is able to maintain its control only over a few streets [in Damascus].”

Meanwhile, International mediator Kofi Annan was “gravely concerned” yesterday at the latest violence in Syria, urging that shelling of the central and northwestern Syria and reports of the use of mortar bombs, helicopters and tanks has trapped civilians.

‘Civillians trapped in Syria’

“There are indications that a large number of civilians are trapped in these towns [in central Homs],” Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement issued in Geneva. “The Joint Special Envoy demands that the parties take all steps to ensure that civilians are not harmed, and further demands that entry of the U.N. Military Observers be allowed to the town of Al-Haffa immediately.” Helicopters strafed rebels’ positions in Al-Heffa, in the northwestern province of Latakia, and in Rastan, in the central province of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, also giving yesterday’s death toll as 52.

The Observatory also reported government shelling in the central provinces of Hama, the southern region of Daraa, the northern province of Aleppo, and suburbs of the capital Damascus and Deir ez-Zor in the east. Regime troops have pounded Al-Heffa daily for the past week to snuff out Free Syrian Army rebels deployed in the rugged countryside near the Turkish border, activists said.

Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.