The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC) is a network of 70 coordination groups (tansiqiyat) operated by media and street activists connected to the grassroots revolt inside Syria. Since March 2011, the LCC has played a key role in organizing anti-regime demonstrations and disseminating information about the revolution.
Razan Zaitouneh: human rights lawyer and member of the LCC media office, based in Syria
Manhal Bareesh: LCC representative in the Syrian National Council, based in Turkey
Omar Idilbi: spokesperson and member of the LCC Executive Committee, based in Qatar
Rima Flihan: journalist and member of the LCC Executive Committee, based in Jordan
Murad al-Shami (pseudonym): spokesperson and member of the LCC Executive committee, based in Syria
Fares Mohamad (pseudonym): filmmaker and member of the LCC Executive Committee, based in Syria
Rafif Jouejati: spokesperson for the LCC, based in the United States
The LCC is an umbrella organization that brings together local committees that have emerged in neighborhoods, cities, and villages across Syria since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in March 2011. These groups were originally formed to organize and document local revolutionary activities on the ground. However, as the protest movement intensified, they united under the LCC banner to enhance their coordination and visibility. There are roughly 70 local committees across the country. The oldest and most established are in: Deraa, Homs, Banias, Saraqeb, Idlib, Hasaka, Qamishli, Deir Ez-Zor, the Syrian coast, Hama, al-Raqqa, Suweida, Dael, Damascus, and the Damascus suburbs.
Young Syrian journalists and human rights activists from different ethnic, religious, and class backgrounds operating within Syria account for the large majority of committee members. However, the LCC also includes representatives in Syrian expatriate communities. The committees are headed by 140 representatives who meet every two weeks via Skype to coordinate and synchronize their activities. All LCC activities are supervised by the decentralized executive, media, translation, and relief offices and financed through private donations.
Since March 2011, local committees have been responsible for reporting news and developments on the ground in Syria and relaying information to Arab and international media outlets. The LCC media office gathers, checks, and provides real-time information about the uprising that is published and constantly updated on the LCC website and Facebook page. The LCC also collaborates with the Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria to document human rights violations in the country and report statistics on the number of war casualties, detainees, and people reported missing since the 1980s.
Another important function of the local committees is promoting civil disobedience as a means of fighting the Assad regime. Since the beginning of the uprising, the LCC has organized thousands of peaceful protests and strikes as well as mobilized anti-regime demonstrations within local communities across the country.
In some cases, these local committees have grown into important centers of civic authority, providing for medical and legal needs as well as humanitarian aid. The relief office of the LCC, for example, is in charge of sustaining various humanitarian initiatives, such as a food basket program, which provides food for Syrian families in need, and the Orphans of Freedom program that provides orphaned children food, shelter, clothing, education, and psychological support.
Political Vision and Policy Toward the Crisis
The LCC has emerged as an alternative channel for political change outside of traditional party politics. Its primary objective is to reflect the voice of the Syrian street. While opting for an independent political stance, the LCC issues frequent statements and takes clear positions on developments occurring within Syria.
The organization views the overthrow of the Syrian regime as the first and foremost goal of the revolution. It prioritizes dialogue and the use of nonviolent and noncoercive measures while calling for a peaceful transition to a democratic and pluralistic state, based on freedom and equality for all citizens.
At the start of the revolution, the LCC was opposed to foreign military intervention and the arming of the opposition. However, its position gradually shifted as regime violence escalated. With the formation of the Free Syrian Army in late 2011 and its expanding role in early 2012, the LCC began calling on the international community to take a stronger stand against the Assad regime while recognizing the role of the Free Syrian Army. On August 8, 2012, the LCC urged leaders of various military councils and battalions across Syria to sign a code of conduct that established the moral and political principles for military action. The LCC also provides logistical and technological support to the Free Syrian Army as well as intelligence regarding regime activities and the Syrian army’s movements and whereabouts.
Due to the militarization of the Syrian conflict, however, the LCC has lost ground among civilian activists and is being sidelined by groups that are actively involved in the armed rebellion. Unlike other grassroots networks—such as the Syrian Revolution General Commission and the Supreme Council for the Leadership of the Syrian Revolution—the LCC refuses to provide financial support or weapons to the Free Syrian Army or any armed groups, as that would betray its ethos and policy of nonviolence. In fact, despite being one of the largest and best-organized opposition groups inside Syria, the LCC receives the least amount of funding due to its nonmilitary stance and lack of religious affiliation. This has become a source of tension within the organization with some local committees now quitting the LCC in order to take part in the armed struggle.
Though politically independent, the LCC seeks to liaise with all Syrian opposition bodies to encourage opposition unity and dialogue. In October 2011, the LCC supported the formation of the Syrian National Council (SNC), recognizing it as the legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition, and placed a number of LCC representatives in the SNC’s Revolutionary Movement. However, relations between the LCC and the SNC have gradually deteriorated, and on May 17, 2012, the LCC issued a statement accusing the SNC of betraying “the spirit and demands of the Syrian Revolution” and marginalizing its representatives.
Since August 2012, the LCC has backed the call for the formation of a national transitional government. According to the LCC, this government must be formed in close consultation with the LCC and the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups and should represent the Syrian nation in its entirety.
In October 2012, the LCC threatened to withdraw from the SNC and ceased all activities within the SNC until its demands for restructuring, improved representation of the revolutionary movement, and greater democratization of decisionmaking were met. Dissatisfied by the results of the council’s plenary meetings in Doha in early November, the Executive Committee of the LCC announced its formal withdrawal from the SNC on November 9, accusing the council of being under Muslim Brotherhood control and of failing to reform into a truly representative structure. LCC spokesperson Rafif Jouejati additionally condemned the SNC’s failure to elect any women to its new General Secretariat. However, a number of LCC representatives within the SNC’s Revolutionary Movement bloc, including Manhal Bareesh, Zeina Bitar, and Homam Haddad, rejected this decision and retained active membership.
On November 12, the LCC issued a statement recognizing the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the legitimate representative of the revolution and the Syrian people, affirming its participation in the new structure.