Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his family have forfeited any chance of a peaceful exit from Syria and may meet a bloody end "like Muammar Gaddafi," prominent Syrian opposition leaders have warned, Today's Zaman reported.
Haitham Maleh, a leading member of the anti-Assad Syrian National Council (SNC), told The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday that "Assad and his family will be killed in Syria," stating that the embattled president has lost his right to leave Syria peacefully after snubbing a recent power transfer proposal from the Arab League. "We offered him the option to leave us alone and go, but instead he went for the blood of his people. The end for him will be that he is killed like Gadhafi," he told the Telegraph.
SNC member Khaled Khoja guardedly affirmed the statement in an interview with Today's Zaman on Tuesday, warning that Assad was headed down "a very dangerous track, in which his use of force will absolutely generate a reaction." The coming reaction, Khaled stated, "may, as in the case of Gaddafi, be uncontrolled, the result of his attempts to push the whole country to an internal war -- if he continues this, he absolutely will meet a terrible end."
The stark predictions of Assad's end contrast with previous opposition hopes that a peaceful exit or an internationally mediated trial would be the likely fate for the Syrian president. In October of 2011 SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani told Today's Zaman that Syrians had been "shocked" by the brutality of Gaddafi's death and wished "a fair trial for Assad -- what happened in Libya is frightening and is not what we want to have happen in Syria."
The "frightening possibility" of Libya-style violence, however, has become reality in a conflict that the UN estimates has taken over 5,000 lives and mobilized large sections of the country to violently oppose Assad's rule.
Fighting in the suburbs of Damascus reached new heights on Sunday after the Syrian Interior Ministry announced plans to sweep restive neighborhoods clear of rebel forces, an operation which it hailed as successful in "killing big numbers of terrorists ... in the Damascus countryside." Meanwhile the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a loosely coordinated collection of defected soldiers, made its own claims on Monday and Tuesday, telling the Wallstreet Journal that it was "positioned in a suburb no more than five miles from the presidential palace in Damascus."
Rebel presence in Damascus warded off what the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Monday as an attempt by Asma Assad, wife of the Syrian president, to escape to Damascus Airport and abroad with her two children.