BEIRUT -- In his first visit to the country since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, one of the opposition leaders from the Syrian National Council disguised himself and crossed into Syria from Turkey on Wednesday, opposition activists said. The video above shows Burhan Ghalioun kissing Syrian soil.
In the video below, shared on YouTube, the gray-haired opposition leader meets with rebels in an unspecified area near the border. Ghalioun says in the video that it is the first time in two years that he has visited Syria. He adds that he hopes he will return soon.
Though Ghalioun and the council have faced accusations in recent months that the group is detached from reality, Ghalioun was welcomed warmly by Syrian rebels who escorted him, as the videos show. After his brief visit, Ghalioun put on his disguise again to leave the country.
Despite criticism of and dissatisfaction with the group, the Syrian National Council will play a big part if Syria achieves "regime change," said Jamil, a theater director in Syria.
"It will play an important role because of one simple reason: There are no other alternatives," Jamil said. "Ghalioun's visit was very important for several reasons. First, it proves that the Syrian government lost control over certain territories. Second, it is the first such visit between the rebels from inside and high-ranking outside opposition members. It sends a message to people that the regime is dissolving."
-- Rima Marrouch