03/05/2012, 00.00
SYRIA
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Muslim extremists and terrorists taking advantage of Syria's revolution

Sources tell AsiaNews that al-Qaeda operatives are in Syria to pursue the jihad. The interests of the Arab League are fuelling the climate of hatred and violence, reducing hope for a lasting diplomatic solution.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - "Muslim extremists are hijacking the pro-democracy movement that came out of the March demonstrations of young unemployed Syrians," sources told AsiaNews. In their view, what started out as peaceful protests against the regime has morphed into an armed struggle that is leading the country in the direction of a bloody civil war.

"So many interests are involved in the fight against Assad, and not all of them with the well-being of the Syrian people at heart," the sources said. "Foreign Muslim terrorists, some from al Qaeda, have joined the ranks of the rebels. They are in Syria to fight a jihad against the regime and defend the interests of countries in the Arab League. This is fuelling a climate of violence and hatred and is undermining hope for a diplomatic solution based on talks between the parties."

"People are afraid," they added. "A curfew has been imposed on Damascus. The city is divided between those who are in favour of the regime and those in favour of the rebels. The same is true in other cities." For the sources, Syria is at impasse as violence begets counter-violence.

The recent constitutional referendum highlighted these divisions. Although the new constitution ends the Baa'th party monopoly of power, opening society and politics to pluralism, contrary to the claims that 87 per cent voted Yes (with a 57 per cent turnout), the actual results indicate that less 50 per cent of those who cast their ballot were in favour of the new constitution. "Such a result hurts the regime, but also the opposition, which failed in its boycott campaign," the sources said.

Meanwhile in Homs, fighting between troops loyal to Assad family and the rebels of the Free Syrian Army continue.

This morning, the Red Cross was able to bring aid to Syrian refugees who fled the violence in the city's Baba Amr district. The latter has suffered the brunt of the fighting and remains off limits to aid workers.

Today, Arab League General Secretary Nabil al-Arabi announced that Syrian authorities have accepted Kofi Annan as a special UN envoy. He is scheduled to arrive in Damascus next Saturday.

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