Syrian opposition forces in the northern province of Aleppo have declared the formation of a “Revolutionary Transitional Council” as future umbrella for all the rag tag opposition groups battling to bring down the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“[The Revolutionary Transitional Council] includes all those working in the revolution; civilians, politicians and military men,” one member of the newly formed council said in a statement aired by Al Arabiya television on Friday.
The council aims to “facilitate the formation for a [wider] national transitional council to include all of the Syrian provinces,” the statement added.
“In a time when the Syrian revolution has reached an advanced stage, there needs to be an incubator inside Syrian territory to lead the revolution from the inside.”
While the main Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Council, has a military section, many of its political leaders and figures are living abroad, and their meetings happen to be outside the country in Turkey, France or Germany.
“The council is a pioneering example for other provinces to follow.”
Opposition not unified
Syrian opposition forces have long being criticized for being divisive and not unified. Western nations have also called on Syrian opposition forces to be prepared to be ready to fill the void if President Bashar al-Assad’s regime collapses.
On Monday, French President Francois Hollande called on opposition to form a transitional government and for the establishment of liberated zones in Syria.
“France asks the Syrian opposition to constitute a provisional government that is inclusive, representative, that can become the legitimate representative of the new Syria,” Hollande said in a speech in Paris to his nation’s ambassadors. “France would recognize the provisional government once it has been formed.”
Regime’s violence in Aleppo
While, the Free Syrian Army dubbed their operation against Assad’s forces as “the northern volcano,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Thursday that the Syrian forces have bombed people while they were queuing for bread in Aleppo.
HRW said Syrian jets and artillery have struck at least 10 bakeries in Aleppo in the last three weeks, killing dozens of people as they waited in line to buy bread.
The U.S.-based group said the attacks were either aimed at or were done without care to avoid the hundred of civilians forced to queue outside a dwindling number of bakeries in Syria's biggest city, a front line in the civil war.
“The attacks are at least recklessly indiscriminate and the pattern and number of attacks suggest that government forces have been targeting civilians,” HRW said.
“Both reckless indiscriminate attacks and deliberately targeting civilians are war crimes.”
One attack on Aug. 16 killed around 60 people and wounded more than 70, said HRW, which sent a researcher to the embattled city.
Thousands of rebels from Aleppo’s countryside began moving into the city, Syria’s economic hub, in July. Many moved their fighters into schools and other buildings in residential neighborhoods, leading to high civilian casualties as Assad’s forces pounded rebel-held areas with air strikes and artillery.
HRW said in five of the cases it investigated, there was no military target near the bakeries other than a few fighters maintaining order in the bread lines, meaning the areas were “clearly civilian objects.”
“Every pilot who deliberately launches a rocket at a bread line of civilians, and every commander who gives such an order, should face justice for their crimes,” Ole Solvang, the HRW researcher who visited Aleppo.
Futile meeting at Security Council
A U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria’s aid crisis achieved nothing new on Thursday except to highlight global paralysis on the 17-month conflict as western powers warned that military action to secure civilian safe zones was still an option.
“How long are we going to sit and watch while an entire generation is being wiped out by random bombardment and deliberate mass targeting?” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu asked the Security Council.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said no amount of aid would end the bloodshed and suffering. “That day will come only once Assad has departed and a peaceful Syrian-led transition to democracy has begun,” she said.