Syrian opposition says Assad fomenting sectarian strife

July 20, 2011 17:20


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ISTANBUL - Syria's opposition accused President Bashar Assad on Wednesday of trying to foment sectarian strife in Syria to stop a mass movement from establishing democracy that would respect all groups' rights and identities.

Emadeddin Rachid, of the opposition National Salvation Congress, said Syrians would not repeat mistakes made in neighboring Iraq, where fighting between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims broke out after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"Syria will not follow the path Iraq went down," Rachid told a news conference in Istanbul. "All Syrians are committed to the unity of the Syrian nation."

On Tuesday troops loyal to Assad killed 16 people in the Syrian city of Homs and rights group say more than 1,400 people have been killed since the unrest began in March.

"The regime is behind the sectarian clashes in Homs. They are distributing weapons to certain people to escalate sectarian tensions," Rachid said.

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