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Syria Would Cut Iran Ties, Opposition Leader Says

Burhan Ghalioun

November 23, 2011: French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, right, and Burhan Ghalioun, the head of the Syrian National Council opposition group addresses reporters during a news conference following their meeting in Paris. (AP)

A Syrian government run by the country's main opposition group would cut Damascus's military relationship to Iran and end arms supplies to Middle East militant groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, the group's leader said, raising the prospect of a dramatic realignment of powers at region's core.

Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, said such moves would be part of a broader Syrian reorientation back into an alliance with the region's major Arab powers. Mr. Ghalioun's comments came Wednesday, in his first major media interview since he was made SNC leader in October.

Mr. Ghalioun also called on the international community to take aggressive new steps, including the possible establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria.

"Our main objective is finding mechanisms to protect civilians and stop the killing machine," Mr. Ghalioun, a 66-year-old university professor, said from his home in south Paris. "We say it is imperative to use forceful measures to force the regime to respect human rights."

Underscoring those concerns, the United Nations human-rights commission estimated Thursday that Syria's crackdown on its nine-month uprising has claimed "much more" than 4,000 lives, a toll that has grown by the hundreds in recent weeks.

This year's political uprisings in the Middle East increasingly have devolved into a power struggle pitting the U.S. and its Arab allies, such as Saudi Arabia, against Iran and its allies. Syria is viewed as the central prize, due to its strategic position and role in the Arab-Israeli struggle.

Click here to read more on the story from The Wall Street Journal

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