Al-Khatib asks for more international help

March 26, 2013 at 10:07 AM
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DOHA, Qatar, March 26 (UPI) -- Syrian opposition figure Moaz al-Khatib appealed for more international help to protect rebel-held areas while rejecting foreign interference in the civil war.

Speaking through a translator at the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, al-Khatib said he had asked Washington take on a bigger role by helping to protect northern areas with Patriot surface-to-air missiles, The Guardian reported in its blog of the conference.

Al-Khatib said during the weekend he was resigning as leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the main opposition coalition umbrella group, saying said he had reached his limit following what he called two fruitless years of appealing to the international community for help in ending the nation's bloody civil war.

"The role played by the U.S. should be much bigger," al-Khatib said Tuesday. "I asked [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry to provide Patriot missiles to protect the northern province. We requested NATO to spare the lives of innocent civilians."

"We do not wish to fight," al-Khatib said. "We wish to protect civilians to restore the normal way of life."

However, he said rebel forces reject "any foreign-dictated orders."

"Differences at the international level have exacerbated the crisis," he said. "We created the revolution and it is only the Syrian people who will determine how the revolution will end. We will determine who will rule the country. We will live together to in harmony."

Al-Khatib also urged Iran and Russia to withdraw their "experts" from Syria, The Guardian reported.

Even though he resigned from the coalition -- which hasn't accepted his resignation -- al-Khatib led the delegation attending the summit.

Officials from President Bashar Assad's regime criticized the Arab League's decision to invite the Syrian opposition to represent Syria at the summit in Doha.

Syria's ambassador to the league, Youssef Ahmad, accused the body of replacing a legitimate state with a "monstrosity," Syria's state-run news agency reported. Syria's membership was suspended in November 2011.

The Syrian representative said the decision to recognize the opposition organization was "null and void" and a "brazen violation of the league's charter."

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