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'Terrorists only a small part of Syrian rebellion' - Opposition VP

Published time: January 29, 2013 07:25

George Sabra (AFP Photo / Fred Defour)

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­However, the renewed attempt on Monday to broker a political transition in Syria and put an end to the country's 22-month-long conflict brought no visible success.

RT caught up with Syrian National Coalition Vice President George Sabra, and asked him what he thinks is needed to bring about peace in Syria.

“We need some new weapons against airplanes,” Sabra told RT’s Maria Finoshina. “You know Bashar Al Assad sends planes to damage villages and cities and civilians. We need to protect ourselves our children from killing every day.”

RT: So to help the Syrian people and to help end the Syrian crisis, you need weapons and money? Is that correct?

George Sabra: Yes, sure. Sure. And we need political support also. Who can cooperate with the man who killed more than 60,000 people? We are concerned, but we are not afraid, because the majority of fighter groups in Syria are not extremists and not terrorists, only fighting for freedom and dignity.

RT: And what about Al Nusra group from Iraq? Are these people fighting for freedom and democracy as well?

GS: They are fighting for freedom and democracy, but maybe we will face some problem with them. Anyway, they are a small part of the revolution in Syria.

RT: But these people are recognized even by the French President as extremists and terrorists…

GS: All over the world you can find extremists, but they are not the real picture, only a small part of it, please recognize that.

RT: So you are absolutely sure that you’ll be able to control them, these people

GS: Sure, very sure, very sure about that.

Though Sabra claims that extremists make up only a small number of the rebels and are easy to contain, historian Gerald Horne does not agree, and argued that a similar scenario played out in Libya.

“We are reassured by [the SNC vice president] that if dissidents come to power they’ll be able to handle the Al Nusra front, but the Libyan dissidents said the same thing when they worked with NATO in 2011 about toppling Colonel Gaddafi," Horne said.

NATO's push for a similar intervention in Syria suggests that Western powers have not learnt “even the most recent lessons of history,” he added. “Now we see that in Benghazi, which was the cradle of the revolt against Gaddafi, the North Atlantic countries have asked their nationals to flee because of presumed impending terrorist attacks launched by those they just helped into power.”

Horne believes that most of what the Syrian National Coalition’s representatives are saying should be taken “with a grain of salt,” as they have no hesitation “putting civilians in harm’s way by launching attacks from crowded urban communities.”

Horne was also struck by the fact that SNC leader stated they would not be involved in any negotiations with the Assad regime.

“The way wars end is that you negotiate with those who are shooting at you,” Horne said. “And this is how this war should end. But if they refuse to negotiate that tends to suggest that this conflict will continue indefinitely.”