Syrian opposition gathers in Brussels

4th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Syrian opposition groups took their campaign to Belgium on Saturday where they demanded an end to the crackdown led by President Bachar al-Assad.

Around 200 activists gathered at a Brussels hotel for a two-day conference after Turkey hosted a similar meeting earlier this week.

The aim of the conference, said organiser Bassem Hatahet, was to send al-Assad the message that "if he is really a leader, he should stop his crimes, and that if his forces continue to imprison and torture protesters, there must be a regime change."

Hatahet said several different opposition groups and representatives from Syrian society were taking part in the conference. A statement would be issued at the close of the meeting on Sunday.

Following the conference in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya on Wednesday and Thursday, opposition groups urged al-Assad's immediate resignation and the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections within a year.

Large crowds attended on Saturday the funerals of 50 people killed by security forces during anti-regime protests in Hama the previous day, human rights activists said.

More than 1,100 civilians have been killed and at least 10,000 arrested in a brutal crackdown on almost daily demonstrations in Syria since March 15, rights organisations say.

© 2011 AFP

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