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Assad’s regime an ‘armed militia’

ISTANBUL: The Syrian regime has degenerated into an “armed militia” that resorts to brutality in an attempt to stay in power, Turkey’s foreign minister said yesterday at a meeting with top Arab diplomats.
The officials at a one-day summit in Istanbul described the Syrian regime as a threat to peace and security in the region.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey said the government of Bashar Assad had lost its legitimacy after 20 months of conflict that started with peaceful protests against the regime and evolved into a civil war after pro-Assad forces cracked down.
“It has turned into an armed militia power that resorts to all kinds of brutal methods just to stay in power,” Davutoglu said. “The Syrian regime, which is a serious threat to the future of its own people and country, with each passing day increases the threat it poses to the well-being of our region, through its actions that target peace and security beyond its borders.”
Meanwhile, Syrian Internet and mobile phone links remained cut for a third straight day yesterday, an AFP correspondent in Damascus reported. US have accused the government of deliberately seeking to deprive the opposition of communications.
But activists and human rights monitors said that ordinary civilians were harder hit by the blackout than the opposition as they unable to use cellphones even to call for emergency assistance in the event of casualties from the persistent violence rocking the country.
“Many activists have satellite phones, but the average Syrian who needs to make a mobile phone call to get help for an injured person, for instance, can no longer do so,” said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.
“Internet was supposed to be restored on Friday, but it isn’t back yet,” Abdel Rahman told AFP.
He said activists without satellite connections had been forced to resort to landlines.
“We speak in code, because landlines are monitored by the government,” said Abdel Rahman, whose Britain-based monitoring group relies on a network of medics and activists inside Syria for its reports.
Earlier on Friday, Syria's new opposition coalition edged closer toward choosing a prime minister to lead a transitional government after three days of talks in Cairo.
Former Prime Minister Riad Hijab is the strongest candidate for the job, delegates said. Hijab, who is backed by Jordan and Gulf states, is likely to be chosen before or during a gathering in mid-December of the Friends of Syria, according to coalition insiders.
The grouping of dozens of nations had pledged mostly non-military backing for the revolt.
A popular uprising erupted in March 2011 against Assad’s autocratic rule in which 40,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee the country
Coalition member Louay Safi said the prime minister would be the point man for the coalition with the international community and act as the head of an alternate Cabinet ready to fill the political and security void if Assad falls from power.

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