Opposition warns Assad as Syrian troops tighten grip
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Last Updated: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 19:13
Damascus: Syrian opposition figures on Wednesday warned embattled President Bashar al-Assad that his regime will collapse if he fails to usher in democracy, as troops kept their grip on the flashpoint town of Daraa.

Five EU countries meanwhile are summoning Syria's ambassadors over the violent crackdown on protesters, France said today, saying it was joined in the move by Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.

According to rights activists, the military assault on Daraa, 100 kilometres south of Damascus, has killed more than 30 people since Monday.

As the military assault on the agricultural town near the Jordan border entered its third day, the newly-formed National Initiative for Change (NIC) said a democratic transition will "safeguard the nation from falling into a period of violence, chaos and civil war."

"Either the ruling regime leads itself in a peaceful transition towards democracy... or it will go through a process of popular protests that will evolve into a massive and grassroots revolution that will break down the regime and carry Syria through a period of transition after a wave of violence and instability," a NIC statement said.

"If the Syrian president does not wish to be recorded in history as a leader of this transition period, there is no alternative left for Syrians except to move forward along the same path as did the Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans before them," added NIC, an umbrella group of more than 150 opposition activists in Syria and abroad.

A wave of uprising in the Arab world since December has already toppled the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, while it has led to a fiery rebellion in Libya.

Syria has been rocked by massive pro-democracy protests since mid-March in which at least 400 people have been killed, according to human rights activists.

Protesters have taken to streets even after Assad scrapped nearly five decades of draconian emergency rule and abolished the repressive state security court on Thursday last week.

In what activists decried as a military solution by Assad's regime, some 3,000-5,000 troops backed by tanks and snipers swept into Daraa on Monday.

An activist in the town said security forces shot dead at least six people yesterday, following the deaths of 25 the previous day.

The army said troops entered Daraa "in response to calls for help" from citizens to rid them of "extremist terrorist groups" behind a spate of killings and sabotage.


First Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 19:13

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