Syrian opposition conference at Antalya (Turkey)

Opposition conference calls for international intervention

Syrian dissidents at an opposition conference in Antalya, Turkey, said their main aim is to get the UN Security Council to pass a resolution against Syrian authorities and officials, according to media reports.

Our main aim is to refer Syrian officials to the international criminal court in order to hold them accountable for their crimes,” one attendee, Mohamed al-Abdullah, a Washington-based Syrian activist, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “We need UN Security Council resolution similar to that one issued for Libya.

The state news agency, SANA, wrote that the conference had “limited participation” and speeches contained “general instigative content interjected by applause and lack of vision, save for a few slogans indicating extremism in stances and rejection of dialogue.” Syrian TV broadcast reports on protests outside the conference hall by pro-government Syrians carrying the Syrian flag and pictures of President Assad.

A government-appointed committee met on Wednesday to establish groups to lead a pledged national dialogue, while another committee met for the first time yesterday to discuss the prospect of a new media law, SANA reported.

The president issued a general amnesty on Tuesday, after 10 weeks of protests against his 11-year rule and a military crackdown which has drawn international condemnation.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has released a report documenting what it calls “crimes against humanity” in and around Dera’a, where the protests began and said it was up to the Security Council to make sure those responsible are held accountable.

Syrian state television broadcast a program aimed at debunking the portrayal of 13-year-old Hamza Khatib, who foreign media reports suggested was tortured and killed after being arrested near Dera’a in April.

There are no marks on the surface of the body that show violence, resistance or torture,” claimed a state coroner. State TV said the teenager’s father and family were invited to meet President Assad, and they were quoted as saying the president “engulfed us with his kindness and graciousness”. A man who identified himself as Hamza’s father said: “The president considered Hamza his own son and was deeply affected.”

A “We are all Hamza” Facebook page now has more than 65,000 followers. The UN Children’s Fund issued a report this week saying at least 30 children were killed in violence since March 15.

In other news, following a meeting between Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem and the Iraqi premier Nouri al-Maliki Iraq is stepping up efforts to curb weapons smuggling from its territory into Syria as the country struggles with ongoing demonstrations and violence, AP reported.

Iraq for years has accused Syria of turning a blind eye to al-Qaida weapons and fighters streaming across its northern border to assist Iraq’s militias, but in a rare admission, an Iraqi government spokesman said weapons and fighters are being trafficked to Syria.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah spoke publicly for the second time on the violence in Syria and foreign government’s agendas, Al-Watan reported. He said: “What is being prepared for Syria is division, and if it succeeds in Syria it will arrive in Saudi Arabia. And it will have no limits: this is the American-Israeli project.”

Violence in Homs continues

The local co-ordination committees which organise protests on the ground in Syria said in a Facebook message that more than 25 civilians were killed in al-Rastan in Homs province last night. But an official Army source told SANA that "army units and security forces in al-Rastan, Homs, arrested a number of armed terrorist groups’ members and seized a big quantity of weapons and ammunitions used by these groups to terrify people, kill them and sabotage public and private properties."

In a statement passed to the activist network Avaaz, residents of al-Rastan denied media reports that they had taken up arms against security forces. “We have never taken up arms against anyone. Those who have been going out in peaceful demonstrations in tens of thousands, for weeks, cannot carry weapons after that,” the statement read.

Syrian authorities blame armed groups, backed by Islamists and foreign agitators, for the unrest and say 143 police and soldiers have been killed.

Syria Today (Syria)