Burhan Ghalioun, head of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC),
Ghalioun announced he will step down from his position as the head of the SNC Reuters

The head of the Syrian National Council Burhan Ghalioun announced he is resigning from his position amid growing divisions within the umbrella opposition group.

Two days after being re-elected for a three months term as the head of the Syrian National Council following a SNC meeting in Rome, Italy, Burhan Ghalioun announced he decided to step down.

"I will not allow myself to be the candidate of division, I am not attached to a position, so I announce that I will step down after a new candidate has been chosen, either by consensus or through new elections," his statement read on Thursday.

Ghalioun said he would remain an SNC member "hand-in-hand with the young people who struggle, the young people of the revolution of dignity and freedom, until victory."

He then urged all opposition groups to overcome their divisions and form a cohesive bloc.

His resignation came just hours after the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists on the ground, threatened to pull out of the SNC.

The LCC criticised the SNC leaders for failing to closely collaborate with activists on the ground and wanting to "monopolise" power.

"The deteriorating situation in the SNC is an impetus for us to take actions, which could begin with a freeze (of LCC membership in the SNC) and end with a withdrawal if errors are not solved and demands for reform go unmet," said the Committees in a statement.

The group complained of "a total absence of consensus between the SNC's vision and that of the revolutionaries"; and of "a marginalisation of most (LCC) representatives".

It also criticised "a monopolisation of decision-making by influential members of the executive bureau", as well as the SNC's alleged close link to the Syrian Muslim brotherhood.

In contrast, the LCC praised "the sacrifices of our heroes, the Free Syrian Army, in the defence of cities bombarded by the army of the regime, and their determination to protect peaceful demonstrations despite all the difficulties they face."

Ghalioun's resignation announcement came as more reports of violence emerged across the country.

Activists said the government's forces shelled Rastan, a rebel stronghold in the province of Homs,.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said the regime forces carried out raids and arrests in the suburbs of Irbin and Kanakar in Damascus province.

Clashes were also reported in the town of Al-Qatifa, and regime forces stormed several neighbourhoods in the southern city of Daraa,