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Ghalioun: End the Syria 'killing machine'

Dec. 2, 2011 at 3:23 PM
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PARIS, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Syria's main opposition group would cut military ties to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas if Bashar Assad is deposed and the group takes over, its leader said.

Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, said such actions would be part of a broader plan to bring Syria back into line with the region's major Arab powers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said this week Syria is on the verge of a civil war, with conservative estimates putting the death toll so far at 4,000 -- most of the victims anti-government demonstrators killed by the Syrian military.

Ghalioun, speaking from his home in Paris, underscored the United Nations' concerns and said the council's main goal is to ensure the safety of Syrians and put an end to violence in the country.

"Our main objective is finding mechanisms to protect civilians and stop the killing machine," the 66-year-old university professor said. "We say it is imperative to use forceful measures to force the regime to respect human rights."

The opposition intends on breaking the president's ties with Iran, with which it has worked to funnel weapons and funds to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and the militant group Hamas in Gaza.

"There will be no special relationship with Iran," Ghalioun said in the interview. "Breaking the exceptional relationship means breaking the strategic, military alliance. After the fall of the Syrian regime, [Hezbollah] won't be the same."

Ghalioun also called for more international support for the council, including the possible establishment of a no-fly zone, The (Beirut) Daily Star reported.

Ghalioun further said an opposition-run Syria would be committed to recovering the Golan Heights, which was captured by Israel in 1967 but would pursue the objective through diplomatic channels, not armed conflict.

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