Syria opposition demands ban on regime air power
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
A jet belonging to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is seen flying in the sky above Raqqa province, eastern Syria August 17, 2013. REUTERS photoSyria's opposition demanded on Sunday that the international community impose a ban on the Damascus regime's use of its air power in urban areas, in addition to its chemical weapons.
"The Syrian National Coalition insists that the prohibition of chemical weapons, the use of which has left more than 1,400 civilians dead, be extended to the use of ballistic missiles and aircraft against urban areas," it said in a statement.
The bloc did not comment directly on a landmark US-Russian deal reached Saturday on eliminating Syria's chemical weapons, which has been denounced by its military chief, General Selim Idriss.
But it said that Damascus's acceptance of the Russian initiative to dismantle its chemical stockpiles could be explained by "the fear of a military strike".
The National Coalition recognised the need to "seize this opportunity to halt the regime's campaign against residential areas and to end the suffering of the Syrian people." In addition to banning the use of the regime's aerial threat, it called for the resurrection of a plan to move heavy weaponry away from populated areas and to ban their use against cities, towns and villages.
"We should not allow the Syrian regime to use its accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention as an excuse to continue killing Syrian people and escape punishment," said the statement.
"Securing the regime's chemical weapons must be accompanied by a search for justice with the perpetrators of the chemical weapons attacks brought before the International Criminal Court." The Coalition also asked its Arab and international supporters to strengthen the opposition's military capabilities.
This would enable it to "neutralise" the regime's air power and heavy armour and force President Bashar al-Assad to end his military campaign and accept a political solution to guarantee a democratic transition, it added.