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Friday, July 15, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Opposition appeal to Syrian Army: 'Stand
with brave protesters'

ANKARA — The Syrian opposition, fighting for four months, has called on the Army to help oust President Bashar Assad.


The Syrian opposition has urged the military to discard its loyalty to Assad and protect the people from his security forces. The opposition, which has been meeting in Istanbul, warned that the Army must not allow Assad loyalists to keep killing pro-democracy protesters.

"The Syrian Army is the guardian of the people and the state," the opposition said on July 13. "Therefore we call on the Army to do its duty and protect people from the cruelty of the regime and stand with brave protesters."

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This marked the first call by the Syrian opposition umbrella movement organized in Turkey for the military to abandon Assad. In June, Syrians who defected from the Army and security forces issued the same appeal in Turkey, Middle East Newsline reported.

Opposition sources said the focus on the Army would mark subsequent conferences, including that scheduled for July 16. The opposition said Assad's remaining supporters were comprised of Iran and its Hizbullah proxy.

It was unclear how loyal the army was to Assad. The sources said more than 200 Syrians have fled the Army and security forces since the revolt in March and that the most active military unit was the Army's 4th Division, led by Assad's younger brother, Maher.

But a leading Syrian opposition activist, Ahmed Abdul Al, said the military could oust Assad. Another prospect, Abdul Al said, was that the regime would transfer power to a transitional body and elections would be scheduled.

The opposition has been joined by hundreds of Syrian intellectuals from Damascus. On July 13, 250 Syrian writers, journalists and academics tried to march in central Damascus and were immediately blocked by security forces. Thirty people were arrested.

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