Syrian Legislator Defects
A Syrian parliamentarian left the country Monday after losing hope the Assad government would implement reforms.
Homs representative Imad Ghalioun told the Al Arabiya news network that the central Syrian city, which has been the focus of efforts by President Bashar al-Assad to break nearly 11 months of anti-government protests, is a disaster zone.
"The people of Homs are under siege and the city is disaster-stricken," Ghalioun said. "There is no electricity, piles of garbage fill the streets ... The sounds of shelling all night terrify the children."
The lawmaker has joined the opposition against the Assad regime, and told reporters there are many legislators who support the uprising, albeit not publicly.
More than 6,000 protesters have been killed by Assad security forces since the uprising began in March 2011, ignited by the Arab Spring that swept the region, according to United Nations figures. At least 400 people have died in the last three weeks alone.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Syrian president in an address at a Beirut conference on Sunday to "Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of repression is a dead end."
Ghalioun's words echoed an interview with an Algerian member of the Arab League observer mission to Syria, published Sunday in the London Telegraph. The delegate, Anwar Malek, is a former Algerian army officer. He told the newspaper that he left the country after witnessing the arrests and slaughter of women and children by Assad forces.
Malek called Homs an "international disaster zone."