What is The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces? (+video)
The fractious Syrian opposition has come together to create a new unified front in their battle against President Bashar al-Assad.
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Russia's response to the new opposition body was cooler, according to Agence France-Presse. The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement cautioning the new body against being manipulated by foreign powers. "The main criteria for us is that members of such alliances must act based on a platform of peaceful regulation of the conflict by Syrians themselves, without interference from outside and through dialogue and negotiation," the statement read. Russia has stood by the regime of President Assad, a regional ally, since the uprising began, and has blocked several Western attempts to act on the conflict through the UN Security Council.Skip to next paragraph
Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor. He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog. He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.
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The Associated Press reports that China – which has also vetoed UN Security Council measures against Assad's government – was similarly reticent to support the new body. The AP writes that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei sidestepped a question about China's support for the new body, and whether the West holds too much sway over it, saying China hopes that Syrians will end the fighting and begin a political solution "led by the Syrian people as soon as possible."
The new opposition group is headed by Syrian cleric Sheikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, reports Al Arabiya. Mr. Khatib, widely seen as a moderate and independent without links to the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamic groups, was an imam in Damascus and was arrested in 2011 and 2012 by the Assad regime for his vocal support of the uprising.
Khatib will be supported by three vice-presidents: Riad Seif, a prominent dissident who had once been tapped to lead the new body; Suhair al-Atassi, a leading female opposition figure; and a yet-to-be-named Kurd. The new group is also backed by the SNC's new leader, George Sabra, a Christian.