Syrian rebels on the move during Damascus meeting | News | DW | 23.09.2012
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Syrian rebels on the move during Damascus meeting

Syrian rebels have said they are moving their command from Turkey back into Syria as members of opposition parties held a rare meeting in Damascus where they discussed ways to end the violence.

The Syrian government approved Sunday's meeting of the opposition groups, the Syria Salvation Conference, although several opposition figures have been recently arrested. The meeting took place in a Damascus hotel.

One of the meeting's organizers, Rajaa Nasser, was quoted by Reuters as calling for an "immediate halt to the shooting, a halt to the brutal and barbaric shelling, a truce and a pause for the fighters."

He said that could lead to a political process that would implement democratic change in Syria.

Rebels fighting for the Free Syrian Army against the regime of Bashar Assad have said they believe the meeting "is just a silly plot to mislead the international community to think there is a negotiation in place," calling the opposition "the other face of the same coin."

Meanwhile, FSA leaders say they are moving their command from Turkey to "liberated areas" of Syria.

The FSA also said that nearly all of Syria - with the exception of Damascus - is under the control of the rebels. Only the regime's superior firepower is giving forces loyal to Assad an advantage in the conflict.

The FSA said on Saturday that its next goal was to "liberate" Damascus.

"With or without outside help, the fall of the regime is a question of months, not years," said Colonel Ahmed Abdel Wahab in an interview with the AFP news agency. "If we had anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, we could quickly gain the advantage. But if foreign countries don't give us these, we will still win. It will take longer, that's all."

The conflict has gone on for over a year and a half, with more than 20,000 people estimated to have been killed.

mz/mkg (AFP, Reuters, dpa)