Syria solidarity protests - AFP - August 2011
A Syrian national shouts slogans against President Bashar Assad during a demonstration outside Syria's embassy in Cairo. Photo by AFP
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The leader of the Revolutionary Council of the Syrian Coordination Committees, Mohammad Rahhal, said in remarks published Sunday that the council took the decision to arm the Syrian revolution.

Since mid-March pro-democracy protests have engulfed most of Syria calling for political and economic reforms as well as for the ousting of Syrian president Bashar Assad.

"We made our decision to arm the revolution which will turn violent very soon because what we are being subjected to today is a global conspiracy that can only be faced by an armed uprising," he told the London-based As-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Circumstances no longer allow dealing peacefully with the regime's "crimes," he added. "We will use whatever arms and rocks ... We will respond to the people's calls to arm the revolution," he said.

"Confronting this monster (the Syrian regime) now requires arms, especially after it has become clear to everyone that the world only supports the Syrian uprising through speeches," he added. Rahal lashed out some Arab regimes and described them as "cowards."

Assad's troops have harshly cracked down on protests against almost five decades of Baath Party rule, killing over 2,200 people and triggering a wide-scale international condemnation.