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Syria opposition seeks $60 billion to rebuild after fighting

November 21, 2012|By Emily Alpert
  • George Sabra, president of the Syrian National Council, speaks during the Partnership to Invest in Future Syria conference in Dubai.
George Sabra, president of the Syrian National Council, speaks during… (Ali Haider / EPA )

Syrian dissidents trying to shake off President Bashar Assad told reporters Wednesday that $60 billion would be needed to rebuild the country after fighting stops, comparing it to “an economic ‘Marshall Plan for Syria.’”

At a Dubai meeting, Syrian National Council leader George Sabra said the money would be needed within six months of toppling the regime, the Agence France-Presse reported.

He urged help from "our Arab brothers and the international community." One country has already signaled its interest: United Arab Emirates officials said they would help Syria rebuild and were interested in investing in the country as it recovers, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

The Syrian National Council that Sabra heads is part of a newly formed coalition of opposition groups, formally known as the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which has been courting international recognition and trying to unite Assad opponents. It gained a nod from the European Union as “legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people” this week; Britain and France also threw their weight behind the group.

While opposition leaders outside the country tried to plan for a future after Assad, rebels inside the country continued to clash Wednesday with government forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition group based in Britain, said southern Damascus neighborhoods were being bombarded and northern areas were also under assault in an attempt to retake territory controlled by the rebels. The Syrian state news agency said the army was pursuing “terrorists,” its term for opposition fighters.  

The country has been battered over the course of the lengthy uprising, which evolved from a protest movement to an armed rebellion. The United Nations estimates 2.5 million people need humanitarian aid; more than 400,000 refugees have poured into neighboring countries seeking safety. Tens of thousands of people are believed to have lost their lives in the conflict.

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