Syrian rebels form national council

HOMS, Syria, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Pro-democracy Syrian rebels formed a national council as state-run media reported 14 Syrians were killed at "the hands of terrorists" in Homs.

At the United Nations, meanwhile, the European Union -- with U.S. backing -- introduced a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council that would impose a complete arms embargo on Syria and freeze assets of top Syrian officials, including President Bashar Assad, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.


Opposition members meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, said Tuesday they formed a national council to lead the opposition to Assad's regime, CNN reported.

"I want the Syrian regime to take note of what happened in Libya," where rebel forces say they now control the majority of Tripoli, the country's capital, in their efforts to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi, Syrian National Council member Louay Safi said.

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"Those dictators who think that they are above people and above history, [think] they can maintain repression without being called to account. That time is over now," Safi said. "All nations have the right to live under the rule of law and to experience democracy and free speech and freedom."

The Assad regime is accused of attacking protesters to crush a pro-democracy movement that arose in the aftermath of similar protests across North Africa and the Middle East in the "Arab spring" of 2011.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday Sheik Omar Mostapha from Idleb province in Syria died from sniper wounds suffered Monday, and Syrian security forces raided communities in Idleb and Hama provinces.

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The draft U.N. resolution, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, condemns continued state violence against protesters and alleges government officials may have committed crimes against humanity. The draft also calls for an international embargo on Syrian imports and exports of all weapons and bans training, technical assistance and financing for military purposes.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said he didn't think his country would support sanctions. Russia is a key arms supplier to Syria and its exporters would be hurt by an arms embargo.

Syrian-sponsored news agency SANA said 14 citizens died in Homs, reporting they had been kidnapped, tortured and killed by armed terrorist groups.

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"My father left home for Homs … but after a long absence, we went to the National Hospital and heard that our father was martyred … at the hands of terrorists," SANA reported the man's son as saying.

SANA said footage shown on state-run television showed "the extent of brutality" exhibited by the armed terrorist groups.

Assad has promised to have a dialogue on reforms, but said his forces were protecting Syrians from armed thugs and terrorist groups.

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Two wounded military officials said they were attacked Tuesday as they were escorting a U.N. delegation in Homs, SANA said.

"A number of gunmen in a silver Kia Rio car started shooting at us in front of the governorate building," police officer Ahmad Yehiya Ahmad said.

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