Wednesday 25 April 2018

Opposition takes Syrian leader's seat

Loveday Morris

It is a seat that has been occupied by Bashar al-Assad for more than a decade, but yesterday the Syrian President's chair at the Arab League was handed to those seeking to oust him.

The three-starred flag of the Syrian revolution replaced the two-starred flag of the regime marking Syria's place at the two-day summit of the 22-member Arab League in the Qatari capital Doha.

Moaz al-Khatib, the moderate Damascus cleric who has steered the coalition since November, took the chair, making an impassioned call for assistance to end the two-year-long cycle of violence. The symbolic move followed a tumultuous week for the Syrian National Coalition, fraught by resignations and infighting. Mr Khatib was introduced to the assembled Arab leaders as the head of the opposition coalition, despite dramatically quitting his post at the weekend.

Yesterday he did not give the appearance of someone about to step aside from leadership, and opposition sources said Mr Khatib had agreed to return to his post if the organisation was made more representative.

In a statesman-like speech, he called for the US and Nato to provide Patriot missiles to protect rebel-held northern areas and drew on personal experience as he described the plight of a former student who was driven mad by torture and later killed by the regime.

Meanwhile in the Syrian capital of Damascus yesterday, a car bomb exploded, killing and wounding several people. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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