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Syria opposition picks head of unified delegation for peace talks


A picture taken on November 23, 2017 shows smoke rising following a reported air strike on the rebel-held besieged town of Arbin, in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus. / AFP PHOTO / Amer ALMOHIBANY

Syria’s opposition on Friday selected a chief negotiator for a unified delegation to next week’s UN-brokered peace talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Geneva.

Nasr al-Hariri, head of the opposition High Negotiations Committee, was picked to lead a 36-member negotiating team for the talks on November 28, after three days of intense negotiations between various opposition groups in Riyadh.

“Hariri was selected as the head of the delegation today,” opposition member Jamal Suleiman told reporters.


The unified delegation will comprise of members from various groups including the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) — the largest bloc in the opposition — as well as the Cairo and Moscow-based platforms.

Syria’s disparate opposition has been under heavy pressure to unify their ranks and row back on some of their more radical demands after a series of battlefield victories that have given Assad’s regime the upper hand.

“We expect the other side (Syrian regime) to come to the negotiations so that we can all move forward in the political process,” Hariri said.

Several rounds of talks hosted by the United Nations have failed to bring an end to the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 330,000 people since 2011 and forced millions from their homes.

Assad’s fate has been a major stumbling block in multiple rounds of negotiations between the Syrian regime and the opposition.

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