In this image made from amateur video released by the Ugarit News and accessed Monday, July 2, 2012, black smoke leaps the air from shelling near a mosque in Talbiseh, the central province of Homs, Syria. The head of the Arab League urged Syria’s exiled opposition to unite Monday, saying they must not squander the opportunity to overcome their differences as Western efforts to force President Bashar Assad from power all but collapse. (AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video) TV OUT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT, DATE, LOCATION OR AUTHENTICITY OF THIS MATERIAL
CAIRO (AP) — The Arab League chief urged exiled Syrian opposition figures to unite at a meeting Monday as a new Western effort to force President Bashar Assad from power faltered. Another 85 soldiers, including a general, fled to Turkey in a growing wave of defections.
Turkey’s state-run Andolou news agency said the group of defectors also included 14 other officers, ranging from one colonel to seven captains. It is one of the largest groups of Syrian army defectors to cross into Turkey since the uprising against Assad began.
The stakes are high for calming the crisis in Syria, which NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday called “one of the gravest security challenges the world faces today.”
But more than one year into the Syrian revolt, the opposition is still hobbled by the infighting and fractiousness that have prevented the movement from gaining the kind of political traction it needs to present a credible alternative to Assad.
“There is an opportunity before the conference of Syrian opposition today that must be seized, and I say and repeat that this opportunity must not be wasted under any circumstance,” Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby told nearly 250 members of the Syrian opposition at the opening of the two-day conference in Cairo.
“The sacrifices of the Syrian people are bigger than us and more valuable than any Login to read more