Syrian opposition leaders have warned that President Bashar al-Assad and his family will suffer a bloody end in the same fashion as Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Gadhafi was brutally murdered by rebels in his native Sirte, Libya, last October, with the rest of his family either living in exile or also killed by opponents of the regime.
Haitham Maleh, a prominent member of the anti-Assad Syrian National Council, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper Tuesday that “Assad and his family will be killed in Syria.”
Maleh said the relentless brutality of Syrian security forces against civilians – the United Nations estimates that at least 5,000 people have been killed in the country since the revolt erupted last March – meant that Assad has relinquished his right to a peaceful exit. Assad has also rejected calls from the Arab League to surrender power.
“We offered him the option to leave us alone and go, but instead he went for the blood of his people. The end for him will be that he is killed like Gadhafi,” Maleh told the Telegraph.
SNC member Khaled Khoja told the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman that Assad is going down “a very dangerous track, in which his use of force will absolutely generate a reaction.”
Khoja also warned that the offensive against Assad “may, as in the case of Gadhafi, be uncontrolled, the result of his attempts to push the whole country to an internal war -- if he continues this, he absolutely will meet a terrible end.”
Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper even reported that Assad’s wife Asma and her two children sought to flee the country, but were thwarted by the presence of rebel forces in or near the Damascus airport.
Today’s Zaman further noted that the Syrian opposition appears to have moved 180 degrees away from their previous desire to avoid bloodshed in their efforts to remove Assad.
Meanwhile, Syria appears to be on the brink of civil war, with large portions of the country’s religiously and ethnically diverse population united in their resistance to Assad’s brutal regime.
On the other hand, the leader of one Syrian exile group has stated he has no intention of taking up arms against Assad and his army.
Zuhair Salim, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria, who has been in London since his exile in 1979, told Today’s Zaman he remains vociferously opposed to Assad, however.
“The people of Syria are holding nonviolent demonstrations. The real terrorists are Assad and his supporters who are relentlessly killing the people,” he said.
“We [the Muslim Brotherhood] are near to nonexistent in Syria in terms of numbers. We are carrying on our struggle in an unarmed way and we are not participating in any violent demonstrations. There is no way the people of Syria would be part of such a thing.”
Salim also discussed the differences between the opposition movement in Syria and the rebel movement that ultimately toppled Gadhafi in Libya --- among them, that Libyan opposition forces used violence right from the beginning.
“More people died in Syria. It is out of question for Syria to be divided in two like Libya. This can be done with peaceful protests,” he said.
Salim suggested that Assad’s regime might want their opponents to take up guns in order to precipitate a final massacre.
“But we won’t do that,” Salim sad. “We think many people would die in such a case… The people of Syria and we, as the Muslim Brotherhood, want Assad to resign and we have stated many times that there is no other solution here.”