Last updated: 11 June, 2012

Opposition chief urges Assad to hand over to vice president

The new leader of Syria’s exiled opposition called Monday on embattled President Bashar al-Assad to transfer power to his deputy Faruq al-Shara, the Anatolia news agency reported.

“Assad should leave office to his vice president,” Abdel Basset Sayda, who was named on Sunday to head the opposition umbrella group the Syrian National Council, told Anatolia.

Sayda claimed the Syrian leadership was losing its control of the country day by day, adding: “The regime is able to maintain its control only over a few streets (in Damascus).”

The Kurdish dissident was elected SNC leader at an Istanbul meeting Sunday, replacing Burhan Ghalioun who stepped down last month in the face of mounting divisions that were undermining the group’s credibility.

Violence has intensified in Syria despite a truce that was supposed to take effect in April, with activists saying over 14,100 people had been killed since Damascus launched a crackdown on protests in March last year.