DAMASCUS/BEIRUT – Syria’s domestic opposition Monday snubbed a call to dialogue from President Bashar Assad, as NATO powers challenged the leader’s defiant grip on power and dispatched Patriot missile batteries to neighboring Turkey.
The cold shoulder by the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, a tolerated, nonarmed opposition group that operates separately from the internationally recognized armed opposition Syrian National Coalition, left Assad’s proposal without any takers.
The snub came as Dutch Patriot missile batteries left for Turkey’s border with Syria to join U.S. and German batteries. Some 400 U.S. troops are already arriving in readiness.
Also Monday, the popular video hosting website YouTube said it had mistakenly shut down two accounts of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a key source of information in the 21-month conflict.
YouTube sent the Observatory an email on Sunday that said its channels “syrianhro” and “almrsd” had “violated the policy of the site by publishing shocking and offensive videos,” the Britain-based watchdog said.
The Observatory, which disseminates graphic videos on YouTube of atrocities from a bloody civil war the U.N. says has killed more than 60,000 people, condemned the closure.
It criticized the “lack of awareness by the YouTube administration about the value of what is being published, that global media depend on these videos to know what is transpiring on the ground.”