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Syrian National Council Launches Website

The Syrian National Council has launched a website as the Free Syrian Army pledges to escalate its operations.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 1/5/2012, 1:02 PM

SNC Website
SNC Website
Syrian National Council

The Syrian National Council (SNC) launched its official website [www.syriancouncil.org] on Wednesday.

“This development marks another milestone as the SNC enhances its media and public relations efforts to ensure that information about the Syrian Revolution and the SNC’s progress are communicated quickly and efficiently,” the group – which has focused on peaceful opposition – said in a statement.

The site is intended to highlight initiatives and programs the SNC is undertaking, “both as part of the current opposition movement and in the planning stages for Syria’s transition to a democratic, civil state.”

“The SNC continues to grow its capabilities, including our website,” Wael Merza, the SNC's secretary-general, said. “We are committed to maintaining open and transparent communications with our constituencies in Syria and abroad."

The 70-member SNC was formed in August as a means of coordinating the activities of dissident leaders both in Syria and abroad in their now 10-month long campaign to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Based in Turkey, it has semi-official recognition as Syria's government-in-exile by many countries. However, as Assad's bloody crackdown continues apace tensions with those who prefer armed revolution have come to a head.

Free Syrian Army (FSA) head Colonel Riad al-Asaad pledged this week to escalate operations in response to what he said was the unsatisfactory performance of Arab League monitors in halting President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on protests.

The warning came just days after he said he had ordered a halt to operations against security forces while the monitors carry out their work. The order was apparently disregarded by rebels who killed at least nine soldiers in three attacks.

Based across Syria's northern border in Turkey, Asaad has been described by some as a figurehead of the Free Syrian Army rather than an actual commander. The FSA is believed to have over 15,000 fighters.

Attacks by the rebel army have already begun to overshadow 10 months of largely peaceful protests. Authorities have seized on them as proof that Syria faces armed Islamist fighters backed by foreign powers.

Since November, rebel fighters have ambushed military convoys, attacked an airbase, seized army checkpoints and launched symbolic attacks on an intelligence center and an office of the ruling Baath Party in the heart of Damascus.

On Tuesday Asaad said the rebel army would "take a decision which will surprise the regime and the whole world" within days.

"What is most likely now is we will start a huge escalation of our operations," he added.

The scale of the FSA attacks has already raised fears that the country could be slipping towards civil war.

On Thursday, in an attempt to impress Arab League monitors, Assad's regime released some 550 dissidents. Observers, however, estimate as many as 250,000 more dissidents remain in jail.

United Nations Human Rights officials say the civilian death toll in Assad's crackdown is rapidly approaching 6,000. Syrian authorities say some 2,000 security personnel have been killed in the unrest.