Syria dissidents meet to forge new opposition alliance

Syria dissidents meet to forge new opposition alliance
Syrian and Egyptian delegates observe a minute of silence for the victims of the Syrian Civil War.
PHOTO: AFP

CAIRO - Syrian opposition representatives met in Cairo Monday in a bid to forge a new, broader alliance against President Bashar Al-Assad's regime and agree on a roadmap for ending the conflict.

The new grouping would offer an alternative to the National Coalition, the exiled opposition bloc that is widely recognised and supported by Arab and Western governments, organisers said.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry addressed the opening session of the two-day meeting, which was attended by some 150 delegates, an AFP correspondent reported.

The conference "is just a starting point, we will work together to get your message and your vision for a political solution through to Syria and also to the world," he said.

The attendees include representatives of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC) - an opposition group tolerated by Syrian authorities.

The National Coalition was not officially represented but some members of the group were attending in a personal capacity.

Kurdish leaders and representatives of the Free Syrian Army - the so-called moderate armed rebels backed by Saudi Arabia and Washington - were also in attendance, as were several independent figures.

"The international community needs to pressure Assad's regime and all parties to commit to a political solution," Haytham Manna, a veteran opposition figure and a key organiser of the event, told AFP.

Organisers have said the new alliance would be distinct from the National Coalition and ready to hold talks with representatives of Assad's regime on the formation of a transitional government.

The Syrian conflict has killed more than 220,000 people, uprooted half the population and left the country in ruins since it erupted as a peaceful protest movement in March 2011.

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