AZAZ, Syria — In the foreign halls of power, the strategy is clear: Syria's opposition should unite to present an alternative to Bashar Assad's rule — a step France's president says would lead to diplomatic recognition.
As a move toward unity, Syrian exiles from the main opposition Syrian National Council and other groups unveiled a blueprint Tuesday in the German capital of Berlin for transition to a democratic, transparent society free of religious and ethnic favoritism.
But rebels and civilians in the bomb-shattered Syrian town of Azaz near the Turkish border view such talk as hollow. They are deeply skeptical of all exiled leaders and believe what really matters is their fight on the ground to overthrow the regime.
"They have never come up with a united position that will save the people," said Fadi Hajji, 25, who had been camped out along the Syrian border with Turkey with his wife and two infant daughters for five days. "All they are good at is arguing. They don't represent anyone here and they don't help."
There was more bloodshed Tuesday as a car bomb ripped through a Damascus suburb, killing 12 people, according to the state news agency. Activists also said an airstrike in the town of Kfar Nabl killed at least 13 people as fighting raged nationwide.
With no end to the carnage in sight, French President Francois Hollande called on the Syrian opposition Monday to form a provisional government, saying France would recognize and support it.
Hollande's statement, believed to be the first of its kind, was quickly shot down by U.S. officials who said talk of a provisional government was premature given the deep divisions within the opposition movement.
The head of the main Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Council, criticized the U.S. stand, saying that efforts were under way to forge a united front but that the process takes time — especially in the midst of a raging civil war.
"It seems to me as if the international community is not prepared to take decisive decisions and blames the Syrian opposition for its own shortcomings," Abdelbaset Sieda told The Associated Press by telephone Tuesday from Switzerland.
Those comments were echoed in Berlin by opposition exiles who drafted the 122-page transition blueprint during six months of consultations funded by governments of the United States, Germany, Switzerland and private groups in Norway and the Netherlands.
Many in the SNC have been hoping the world community would impose a safe zone along the Turkish border, possibly extending to a no-fly zone over at least some areas.
Since the uprising began in March last year, Syria's opposition has been plagued by divisions and infighting.
The strains within the opposition were also evident on Tuesday when the Paris-based SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani, a founding member of the group, resigned. She said the SNC had veered off course.