Syria's opposition on the brink as activists criticise lack of leadership

Syria's opposition council was accused of drifting away from the spirit of revolution by a key activist group yesterday, dealing a further blow to a body already facing major problems in its quest to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The Local Coordination Committees threatened to suspend membership of the Syrian National Council (SNC) if its concerns were not addressed. "We have seen nothing in the past months except political incompetence in the SNC and a total lack of consensus between its vision and that of the revolutionaries," it said.

Since its inception last September, the SNC has acted as the international face of the Syrian revolution and served as a reference point for Western leaders. If it continues to deteriorate, it could complicate efforts for the West and others to get behind the opposition. Fifteen months into the uprising, Syria's opposition is still struggling to overcome infighting and inexperience, preventing the movement from presenting a credible alternative to Assad.

The UN estimated in March that the violence in Syria has killed more than 9,000 people. Hundreds more have been killed since then as a revolt that began with mostly peaceful calls for reform transformed into an armed insurgency.