Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Syrian Opposition Coalition Falls into Disarray

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Syrian Opposition Coalition Falls into Disarray

Article excerpt

BEIRUT Syria's Western-backed opposition plunged into disarray on Sunday as its president resigned and its military leader refused to recognize a prime minister recently elected to lead an interim rebel government.

The chaos inside the opposition Syrian National Coalition threatened to undermine its bid to unite the forces battling President Bashar Assad and better organize the fight to oust his regime. It also could hamper support from the U.S. and other powers, who have hoped the Coalition would emerge as the most credible body to channel aid to anti-Assad groups inside Syria and undermine the Islamic extremists who dominate the fight on key fronts of the nation's civil war.

As the opposition's political leadership stumbled, rebel fighters inside Syria pressed ahead Sunday with their offensive in a restive southern province that borders Jordan. Also, Israel's military said its forces in the occupied Golan Heights responded to fire across the border by shooting at a target inside Syria.

In his surprise resignation Sunday, Coalition president Mouaz al- Khatib expressed frustration with the the international community and the opposition body itself. Al-Khatib, a respected preacher who has led the Coalition since its creation late last year, said in a statement posted on his Facebook page that he was making good on a vow to quit if certain undefined "red lines" were crossed.

"I am keeping my promise today and announcing my resignation from the National Coalition so that I can work with freedom that is not available inside the official institutions," he said.

He also blamed world powers for providing what he deemed insufficient support for the rebel cause, and complained that many "international and regional parties" have insisted on pushing the opposition toward dialogue with the regime. …

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