Opposition leader Burhan Ghaliun urges Security Council action on Syria

AFP , Saturday 3 Dec 2011

Syrian National Council urge the UN Security Council to find a mechanism to protect civilians in Syria from Assad regime brutal crackdown

Burhan Ghaliun
Burhan Ghaliun (Reuters)

The leader of the main opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) appealed Saturday for a UN Security Council resolution to end the regime's deadly crackdown on civilians, while ruling out military intervention.

"What we will seek from the Security Council, above all, are mechanisms for the protection of the innocent civilians," Burhan Ghaliun told journalists on the sidelines of a transitional democracy forum in Sofia.

Asked what concrete action he expected from the divided council, he said: "All this is subject to negotiation, depending also on the reaction, the response of the regime."

"If they are going to use force against international observers or against humanitarian organisations bringing aid to the population, we have to defend them," he said.

"But this should not turn into war, or massive military intervention against one people or one country," he insisted.

The United States and Germany on Monday led Western calls for the Security Council to act on Syria's deadly assault against protests after UN investigators said crimes against humanity had been committed.

The 15-member council had already split last month over a European-drafted resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown, with Russia and China vetoing the resolution, while Brazil, India, South Africa and Lebanon abstained.

Because of the internal divisions, the Security Council has so far only agreed on a statement, with less moral weight, on the violence.

Ghaliun urged the international community on Saturday to help "put the necessary pressure on Russia first of all" and coordinate efforts to "have a political solution of this crisis, avoiding civil war and military intervention."

He did not rule out the use of certain "coercive measures against a regime that does not use anything but that."

Asked to comment on a French interior ministry decision Friday to provide protection to Syrian opposition members, who like him are based in the country, Ghaliun said he did not feel threatened.

"I am protected," he said. "But I will have to discuss with the minister (of the interior Claude Gueant) to see what reasons they have for taking this decision."

Gueant did not provide details of the nature of the threats or the security measures to be taken, but said they affected members of Ghaliun's SNC.

Ghaliun's address at the transitional democracy conference in Sofia was not announced in the official programme Saturday for security reasons, organisers said.

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