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Syria's Muslim Brotherhood urges support against regime

Islamist group meets for first time in 30 years in Istanbul to discuss how to support uprising against Assad regime

AFP , Monday 16 Jul 2012
Mohammad Riad Shaqfa (R) seen during a meeting of the Syrian National Council in İstanbul on last ye
Mohammad Riad Shaqfa (R) seen during a meeting of the Syrian National Council in İstanbul on last year (Photo: Reuters
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Syria's Muslim Brotherhood began Monday a two-day meeting on the outskirts of Istanbul focusing on ways to support the uprising against the regime in Damascus, a member of the organisation said.

"It is the first meeting of the organisation after more than 30 years," since many of its members fled Syria following a revolt that was violently suppressed in 1982, Omar Mushaweh, representative of the Muslim Brotherhood within the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group, told AFP.

"There are two main issues: an internal issue for our group to activate young people and women in our organisation and the other is to generate more support for the revolution," he said.

During the inaugural session of the Istanbul meeting, a member of the Islamist movement, Mohammad Riad Al-Shakfa, called on the international community to lend an ear to the voice of the Syrian people. "We, as the Muslim Brotherhood, have continued our existence in Syria's political, historical, social and cultural platforms for many years despite the Assad regime's pressure," he said in remarks carried by Anatolia news agency. "We will not accept any plan on Syria that excludes people," he added.

The leader of the Syrian National Council, Abdel Basset Sayda, who also attended the meeting, repeated his calls for all opposition groups to unite against the regime in Damascus, while predicting that victory was not far off.

"We are supporting the Free Syrian Army. History is being rewritten in the streets of Syria," he was quoted as saying by Anatolia. "The developments in Damascus show victory on the Syrian revolt is close."

Turkey has hosted numerous meetings of Syrian opposition groups since the uprising erupted in mid-March last year, claiming more than 17,000 lives according to monitoring groups.

It is also playing host to Syrian army defectors in camps near the border.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was banned in Syria in 1963. The group attempted to stir a public revolt against the regime but the army crushed the uprising, leaving nearly 20,000 people dead according to estimates.

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