Syrian fighters demand half of coalition seats

Friday 31 May 2013

BEIRUT: Syria’s opposition fighters said yesterday they should be granted half the seats in the opposition Syrian National Coalition, warning that without strong representation of fighters on the ground the group would have no legitimacy.

“We have learned that there have been compromises to expand the coalition which include bringing in a number of politicians, and a similar number from the rebel forces operating on the ground,” a statement issued in the name of the Western-backed rebel military council said.

Rebel forces had “requested 50 percent rebel and military representation,” it said. “The legitimacy of the coalition will only be granted from inside (Syria), and circumventing this rebel representation will mean legitimacy is withdrawn.”

The statement followed a deal struck in Istanbul to admit a liberal bloc of opposition activists into the coalition.
Col. Qassem Saadeddine from the Military Council said that with 50 percent of the seats the rebels would guarantee a say in any future political deal to resolve Syria’s conflict.

“Negotiations and talks will not succeed without the approval from us inside the country, from those who are paying the price with their blood,” he said. “Without us, the West must understand that the Coalition is only a coalition of illusion.”

Russian, US and United Nations officials will meet next week to discuss ways to bring the warring sides to the negotiating table.

Syrian rebels under siege in a town near the Lebanese border issued a desperate appeal on Thursday for reinforcements and medical supplies as government troops and Lebanese guerrillas pounded their defenses.

A Free Syrian Army member mans a checkpoint in Aleppo’s countryside on May 30, 2013. (Reuters)

Categories: Arab World, Asia, Syria

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