Syrian opposition rejects new international plan

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The SNC criticized the plan as too ambiguous though it said it contained some new, positive elements. Other opposition groups called it a waste of time and vowed as they always do not to negotiate with Mr. Assad or members of his “murderous” regime.

“Every day I ask myself, do they not see how the Syrian people are being slaughtered?” veteran opposition figure Haitham Maleh asked. “It is a catastrophe. The country has been destroyed, and they want us then to sit with the killer?”

Mr. Maleh described the agreement reached in Geneva as a “farce” and of “no value on the ground.”

“The Syrian people are the ones who will decide the battle on the ground, not those sitting in Geneva or New York or anywhere else,” he said by telephone from Cairo, where opposition groups are to meet Monday.

The Local Coordination Committees, a key activist network, said it was “very concerned” over the vague language used in the agreement.

“This provides yet another opportunity for the regime’s thugs to play their favorite game in utilizing time in order to stop the popular Syrian revolution and extinguish it with violence and massacres,” it said in a statement.

The U.N. plan was brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy for Syria, who in March submitted a six-point peace plan that he said the Assad regime had accepted. It led to the April 12 cease-fire that failed to hold. U.N. observers sent to monitor the cease-fire suspended their patrols in Syria on June 16 because of a spike in violence and have been confined to their hotels since.

Moscow earlier refused to back a provision that would call for Mr. Assad to step aside, insisting that outsiders cannot order a political solution for Syria and accusing the West of ignoring the darker side of the Syrian opposition. The opposition has made clear it would not take part in a government in which Mr. Assad still held power.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underlined that the plan outlined Saturday does not require Mr. Assad’s ouster, saying there is “no attempt in the document to impose on the Syrian people any type of transitional process.”

Even as the international powers met to find a solution, the death toll mounted on Saturday. Activists said dozens were killed and wounded in a powerful explosion Saturday evening that hit a funeral procession in a suburb of the capital, Damascus. Details of the blast in Zamalka were still murky on Sunday, but amateur videos showed gruesome images of bodies, some with their limbs torn, lying on the ground as people walked about dazed in a cloud of smoke.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 30 people were killed, while the LCC said that it had documented the names of 40 of the dead and that residents were unable to identify an unknown number of remaining bodies.

Activists blamed government forces for the explosion, which they said was likely the result of a car bomb detonated near a mosque where the funeral of an activist killed by regime gunmen was being held.

The SNC did not explain how it arrived at the death toll of 800 for the past week. But it said in a statement that most of the dead were killed in indiscriminate tank and helicopter shelling by regime forces on residential areas throughout Syria.

Death tolls are virtually impossible to verify in tightly-controlled Syria, which imposes severe restrictions on journalists.

But Khalil Al Haj Saleh, a member of the Local Coordination Committees activist network, said the 800 figure appears to be “realistic” in light of the past week’s carnage.

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