Syria dissident calls for international buffer zone

Syria dissident calls for international buffer zone

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Syria dissident calls for international buffer zone

Syrian regime will not its real face to observers told Khaled Khoja (R) told HDN reporter İpek Yezdani in the first media organization in SNC office in Istanbul.

A third day of heavy gunfire in Syria’s flashpoint city of Homs has killed at least 20 people, the same day as an Arab League monitoring mission is expected there, activists said yesterday.

The biggest umbrella organization of Syrian dissidents, the Syrian National Council (SNC), said the real number of people killed yesterday was 50, and called on the international community vote for a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolution to create a buffer zone in Syria.

An initial group of 50 Arab League observers was due to land in Syria later yesterday to oversee a deal aimed at ending Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on dissent, but gunfire was reportedly continuing in Homs and other flashpoints.

Opposition groups claimed between 20 and 50 people had been killed in the besieged city of Homs yesterday. The mission’s leader, Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, is the former head of intelligence in Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s government. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has accused al-Bashir of organizing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

France wanted Arab League peace monitors to deploy immediately to the city of Homs, Agence France-Presse has reported. Turkey’s SNC representative Khaled Khoja said the Syrian regime was trying to provoke a civil war in Syria, and the most effective way to avoid a civil war was to create a buffer zone and human corridor within Syria with a resolution from the UNSC. The SNC opened its first office about two weeks ago in Istanbul and gave the Daily News its first interview there.

Khoja said the Syrian regime has accepted the Arab league monitoring mission only to gain more time, and the observers will not be able to move without the permission of the Syrian authorities inside the country. “I believe the Arab league will call back the monitoring mission in a week or so, because the Syrian regime will not show them the real face of the operations towards civilians in Syria,” Khoja told the Daily News. There is nothing that the Arab league can do anymore, Khoja said. “Now it is time for Western countries to move and take the issue to the U.N. Security Council. Although it looks early for the international community to make a decision like this, creating a buffer zone is an inevitable solution to stop the violence in Syria. We also back the human corridor proposal of France. There should be also U.N. observers in Syria.”

Khoja also said the Syrian regime has released the al-Qaeda militants that the U.S. caught after the war in Afghanistan and imprisoned in Guantanamo Prison before they were handed over to the Syrian regime about two weeks ago.

“We believe they will be shown as the suspects of the latest twin bombing attacks in Syria. We also believe that those bombings were mainly conducted by the Syrian intelligence itself. If the international community doesn’t believe al-Assad’s al-Qaeda scenario, then the regime will probably send these al-Qaeda militants to Europe,” Khoja said.

Syria was shaken by the twin bombings Dec. 23, the first reported large-scale suicide attacks in the nine-month-old uprising against al-Assad. Syria has blamed the twin bombings on al-Qaeda extremists, but some international observers suspect Damascus itself might be trying to manipulate public opinion just before the Arab League monitoring mission got under way. France also said Dec. 24 it did not know who was behind two deadly suicide bombings in Syria.