(MENAFN - Arab News) The newly elected leader of Syria's main opposition bloc said in an interview yesterday that the international community should support those trying to topple President Bashar Assad's regime without any conditions and not link aid to an overhaul of the opposition leadership.
George Sabra, head of the Syrian National Council, said he and other opposition figures are disappointed with foreign backers.
"Unfortunately, we get nothing from them, except some statements, some encouragement" while Assad's allies "give the regime everything," Sabra told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a weeklong SNC conference.
He said the Syrian opposition needs hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and weapons to defeat regime forces.
Sabra, 65, was heading an SNC delegation yesterday in talks with rival opposition groups on forging a new, broader opposition leadership group. Senior SNC figures suggested yesterday's meeting would be the start of several days of negotiations over the size and mission of such a group.
They said they are willing to join a larger group, but that the details need to be worked out carefully. The author of the plan, veteran dissident Riad Seif, has said the international community would quickly recognize a unified group and use it as a conduit for billions of dollars in aid to the uprising against Assad.
As a Christian, Sabra's election late on Friday as the new SNC president, could help counter Western concerns about possible hard-liners' influence over the group.
Sabra, a veteran left-wing dissident who was repeatedly imprisoned by the regime, said he and others in the opposition feel let down by their Western and Arab allies.
The Syrian opposition may have many foreign friends, he said, "but unfortunately we get nothing from them, except some statements, some encouragement." The regime "has few friends, but these friends give the regime everything," he added, referring to Assad allies Russia, China and Iran.