In Focus | Syria

Syria rebel PM Gassan Hitto resigns as cracks come to fore

Army presses fierce assault on besieged districts of the central city of Homs

  • AFP
  • Published: 20:00 July 8, 2013
  • Gulf News

Beirut: Syria’s rebel prime minister Gassan Hitto announced his resignation on Monday, nearly four months after his appointment and having failed to form a government.

“I announce I will not continue in my capacity as prime minister tasked with leading the interim government, though I emphasise I will continue working for the interests of the revolution and towards achieving its objectives,” Hitto said in an online statement.

His resignation comes two days after secular dissident Ahmad Jarba was chosen to lead the main opposition National Coalition.

Jarba is seen as close to Saudi Arabia, which opposed the selection of Hitto to head the interim government in March.

Dissidents say Hitto, who is close to the opposition’s Islamist ranks and whose candidacy was backed by Qatar, was unable to work because of divisions within the Coalition.

Hitto said he decided to resign in order “to help... the Coalition’s new leadership to act according to its political vision, especially with regards to the interim government and its executive functions”.

In a statement, the Coalition said “it will start accepting candidacies for the post of prime minister in 10 days’ time”.

On the ground, the army pressed a fierce assault on besieged districts of the central city of Homs, dubbed “the capital of the revolution” by activists.

State media reported two car bombings in a regime-held area in the city, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported five killed in one of them, in the Akrama district.

Most residents of Akrama are, like Al Assad, members of the Alawite community.

“The ruthless campaign against Homs is continuing for the 10th day in a row” activist Abu Bilal told AFP via Skype.

“Regime forces have been able to enter parts of Khaldiya after heavy shelling and scorched-earth tactics.”

He said the assault was the fiercest in Homs since the uprising began.

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