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Syrian Opposition Forms National Council
October 2, 2011

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Following the lead of Libya's opposition leaders, a group of Syrian dissidents have formed a national council with the goal of replacing President Bashar al-Assad as the leader of the country.

Assad, whose lethal crackdown against opposition to his regime has resulted in thousands of deaths in cities across the country, quickly denounced the move, blaming the unrest on foreign influence. 

The opposition has taken the form of mass demonstrations in many of Syria's largest cities. Until very recently, the demonstrations have been peaceful. A recent gathering in one key city included protesters armed with weapons.

The Syrian National Council is made up of opposition leaders from across the country and of different belief systems, including religious and secular groups. The council has not named an overall leader but has issued a statement urging protesters to continue to use peaceful means to state their opposition to Assad, who has been the leader of the country since 2000.

As in Libya, Syria's opposition began earlier in the year with large street protests. The government responded by ordering troops to fire on protesters, many times over a period of weeks, resulting in a death toll that the United Nations says has topped 2,700. Unlike in Libya, however, no assistance from other countries has been sent to the Syrian opposition. 



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