Damascus: The new head of Syria's main opposition group called on Monday for mass defections from a Syrian regime struggling to survive by carrying out massacres, as the death toll in the uprising topped 14,000.
Similar calls were made by the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), which also urged a campaign of mass "civil disobedience" to ratchet up internal pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's beleaguered regime.
"We are entering a sensitive phase. The regime is on its last legs," Kurdish activist Abdel Basset Sayda told shortly after being named the new leader of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC).
"The multiplying massacres and shellings show that it is struggling," he said of mass deaths of civilians, the most recent of which saw 20 people, mostly women and children, killed in a bombardment of the southern city of Daraa on Sunday.
At his first news conference since taking over the reins, Sayda called on all members of the Damascus regime to defect, while reaching out to minority groups by promising them a full say in a future, democratic Syria.
"We call upon all officials in the regime and in the institutions to defect from the regime," Sayda told reporters in Istanbul.
The FSA, meanwhile, called for a campaign of civil disobedience and urged officers and troops in Assad's military to jump ship and join the rebel ranks.
"We call on Syrians to launch a general strike leading to mass civil disobedience," FSA spokesman in Syria Colonel Kassem Saadeddine said in a statement.


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