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MENAFN - Arab News - 11/10/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Syria's main opposition bloc will restructure itself in Qatar next week to seek fresh impetus, Syrian National Council leader Abdulbaset Sieda said.

His remarks came as Syrian fighters launched an attack on troops in second city Aleppo's landmark Umayyad Mosque yesterday sparking clashes inside the 13th century place of worship, a military source told AFP.

An AFP correspondent witnessed the tail end of the fighting, which the military source said lasted some four hours.

"The fighters broke through the wall of the mosque using RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and tried to push inside," the source told AFP.
Fighting raged inside and outside the mosque before the troops repulsed the assault, the source added.

The AFP correspondent said troops had retained control of the mosque itself but that rebel snipers were continuing to shoot at army positions around it.
Sieda, speaking in Paris, also said the SNC reorganization would precede crunch talks in Doha with other opponents of President Bashar Assad aimed at creating a Syrian transitional government.

Western and Arab countries that have called for Assad's removal are keen to improve cooperation among those trying to dislodge him, including the Istanbul-based SNC.

"We want to create this government as quickly as possible, but speed doesn't mean rushing it," Sieda said after being questioned by members of the French parliament.

"There is an urgency, but if we don't consult properly with the principle opposition forces on the ground, then we will have a weak government that we don't want."

Sieda said the first step would be a general assembly of the Syrian National Council in Doha from Oct. 15-17 to elect a new leadership and increase the numbers of women and young members.

Sieda, who described himself as secular, reiterated that the SNC favors a secular, democratic Syria that respects minority rights and where power is to given local authorities, away from the center in Damascus.


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