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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

World

Syria opposition inks hard-won unity deal
AFP
Doha, Qatar, November 11, 2012
First Published: 19:55 IST(11/11/2012)
Last Updated: 19:57 IST(11/11/2012)

Syrian opposition groups meeting in Qatar have inked a hard-won unity deal and agreed to form a national coalition to fight against President Bashar al-Assad, delegates said on Sunday.

"We signed a 12-point agreement to establish a coalition," said leading dissident Riad Seif, who drew up the US-backed reform proposals on which Sunday's agreement was based.

Another prominent opposition figure, Haitham al-Maleh, said a formal signing ceremony would held at at 1700 GMT.

The deal came after the Syrian National Council, which had formerly been seen as the main representative of the opposition, heeded Arab and Western pressure to agree to a new structure embracing groups that had been unwilling to join its ranks.

Former prime minister Riad Hijab, who fled to neighbouring Jordan in August in the highest-ranking defection from Assad's government, hailed the agreement as "an advanced step towards toppling the regime."

Another delegate, Ziyad Abu Hamdan, said agreement had also been reached on unifying the multiple military councils in command of rebel fighters inside Syria.

He said the talks were now focused on the makeup of a planned government in waiting.

Details of the deal have yet to be released but Maleh said it was "no different" to the original proposals put forward by Seif, one of the leaders of the so-called Damascus Spring protest movement of a decade ago and now touted in Washington as a potential new opposition chief.

Seif's proposals envisaged the formation of a transitional government, a military council to oversee rebel groups on the ground and a judiciary to operate in rebel-held areas.

The 10-member transitional government would be elected by a new 60-member umbrella group to be drawn from civilian activists and rebel fighters inside Syria, as well as by the exiles who have dominated the SNC.


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