US Wants Broader Syrian Opposition

The United States is calling for a major overhaul of Syria‘s troubled opposition, saying that they want to move beyond the Syrian National Council (SNC) to bring in those who are “in the frontlines fighting and dying today.”

The announcement is evidence of a more active stance by the US to form a credible political opposition against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, reports Al Jazeera.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of States, added that a meeting in Qatar next week will be an opportunity to bring more people to the discussion table and broaden the opposition.

During her visit to Croatia on Wednesday, Clinton stated:

“This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes but who, in many instances, have not been inside Syria for 20, 30, 40 years. There has to be a representation of those who are in the frontlines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom.”

The Secretary of State’s comments are a clear break with the Syrian National Council, which is a largely foreign-based political group that has some of the most vocal supporters of international intervention in the Syrian conflict.

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CBS News notes that The shift in support comes after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has criticized Obama’s administration for spending too much time trying to support a political transition plan in Syria. He called for a stronger US leadership in forging a legitimate body to lead Syria away from decades of dictatorship.

Clinton’s speech appeared to indicate that the Obama administration is stepping up its leadership role in the conflict. She stated:

“We have recommended names and organizations that we believe should be included in any leadership structure. We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard. So our efforts are very focused on that.”

More than 36,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011.