By Li Hongmei, Special to Sina English
The Syrian conflict has taken a sharp turn for the worse, with international news agencies reporting the start of serious clashes in the capital Damascus.
According to United Nations observers, armed rebels have been firing rocket-propelled grenades, hitting apartment blocks, a power plant and at least six commuter buses. Government forces have had to use tanks to remove barricades of burning tires from the streets. The latest Damascus clashes are believed to have claimed over 50 civilian lives.
Reports from the opposition say another 35 civilians have died in a government shelling attack on rebel-held neighbourhoods in the city of Homs.
A central Syrian opposition group named a new leader Sunday and vowed new efforts to end the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Abdul Basit Sieda, a Syrian native now living in Sweden, vowed his country will be "a free democratic state."
At a news conference, he called on officials in Syria, Russia, and China "to think carefully about the situation now because the whole stability of region, if not the whole stability of the world, is at stake here. We would like to call upon them to support the Syrian people."
Russia and China have blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions that many other nations said could have pushed al-Assad to halt the killing. The two countries said they want more balanced resolutions that call for a cessation of violence on all sides.
Russia and China believe that this conflict must be resolved through a political dialogue between the warring sides. Accordingly, they have been consistently blocking Security Council motions which would pave the way for Libya-style intervention in Syria. Another Libya, however, is exactly what the armed Syrian opposition is holding in its crosshairs.
Sieda also called on Iran "to admit the situation on the ground and respect the will of Syrians" and to prepare "for new relations with the Syrian people based on the full interest of the Syrian and Iranian people."
On the other flipside, Iran’s FARS new agency said the Syrian rebels are going to use chemical munitions smuggled in from Libya. The goal is the same: supplying Western powers with a pretext for military intervention in Syria.
Syria has been ablaze for almost 17 months. The ceasefire took effect last April in accordance with Kofi Annan’s settlement plan appears to be unraveling, and the UN observers in Syria are powerless to stop the bllodshed.
The United Nations estimates the fatalities in the Syrian conflict at more than 12,000. Over a quarter million people have fled their homes, and almost a million are in dire need of emergency aid.
Syria is precariously perching on a tipping point at the time. What jitters the world is the fear that more bloodshed could ensue if the armed Syrian opposition launched a proxy war to topple the government as it occurred in Libya.