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11:13 14 December
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Nasr Hariri to head Syrian opposition at Geneva talks: spokesman


Syria’s main opposition group selected Nasr Hariri to head the negotiating team at a new round of U.N.-backed peace talks with the Damascus government in Geneva next week, a spokesman told Reuters on Friday, APA reports quoting Reuters.

 

The decision came at a summit in Riyadh where, a day before, the opposition stuck by its demand that President Bashar al-Assad play no role in an interim period, despite speculation that it could soften its stance because of Assad’s battlefield strength.

 

The opposition groups met to seek a unified position ahead of talks after two years of Russian military intervention that has helped Assad’s government recapture all of Syria’s main cities.

 

“There was consensus between the various groups to choose him (Hariri) as head of the Higher Negotiations Committee to lead the opposition delegation in the coming Geneva talks,” said Ahmad Ramadan, spokesman of the Istanbul-based Syrian National Coalition.

 

U.N. peace talks mediator Staffan de Mistura, preparing for the next round of Geneva talks, met on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said Moscow was working with Riyadh to unify the Syrian opposition.

 

For many years, Western and Arab countries backed the opposition demand that Assad leave office.

 

But since Russia joined the war on behalf of Assad’s government it has become increasingly clear that Assad’s opponents have no path to victory on the battlefield.

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