The international noose is closing in on Syrian President Bashar Assad as Turkey shuts down its Damascus embassy and Russia – finally – warned Syria it faces civil war.
The Syrian army shelled the opposition stronghold of Homs for the seventh straight day Monday, sending the death toll in the year-long rebellion beyond 9,000, not including those missing. Syrian opposition leaders said Monday that they have the names of 10,000 people who have been killed.
Buoyed by its ability to survive in the face of Assad crushing military machine and by American readiness to provide non-military aid, the opposition factions for the first time showed signs of unifying in a planned “Friends of Syria” meeting in Turkey next week.
Unlike the rebellions in Egypt and Libya, there has been no national opposition leader in Syria, where the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the leading anti-Assad faction, representing the majority Sunni Muslims.
The aim of the meeting Monday is "for all forces and parties of the opposition not to be a union, but at least to have a united purpose," said National Change Current Amar Qurabi.
The meeting in Istanbul highlights Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’ about-face from what had been a quick and escalating alliance with Iran and Syria. Turkey said it is closing its embassy in Damascus because of the dangerous security situation and as a strong message to Assad.
Russia’s warning that Assad is facing civil war, which already is a fact in some areas, leaves him with Iran as his only major supporter while China also slowly leans towards Western efforts for United Nations condemn action and possibly sanctions against Damascus.