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Syrian Opposition Unites To Overthrow Assad


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Syrian opposition groups have agreed to unite to overthrow Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

The announcement was made November 11 after days of talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Elected to head the new coalition was Mouaz al-Khatib, a former imam at the famous Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.

Joining the moderate cleric as deputies are Riad Seif, who proposed the initiative to form the group, and female activist Suhair al-Atassi.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu -- who attended part of the discussions in Doha -- said the agreement meant the opposition was no longer divided.

U.S. officials declared that country's support for the broader Syrian coalition.

The Russian Foreign Ministry meanwhile gave it a cooler reception. Moscow said the new bloc should pursue a negotiated solution to the crisis and called on the National Coalition to reject outside interference.

The new group will be called the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces.

The move comes after international pressure to form a broad, new coalition.

The Syrian National Council, which joined the group after much wavering, had been criticized in the West for failing to unite Syria's opposition and lacking representation inside the country.

Transitional Government

The Syrian opposition is hoping the move will lead to more support from the West and other Arab states.

Analysts say the Arab League is expected to allow the group to take over Syria's representation on that inter-governmental body.

Delegates at the talks said the coalition will try to form a 10-member transitional government in the coming weeks.

That body, analysts say, would be much like Libya's Transitional National Council, which was formed during Libya's uprising and took power when Muammar Qaddafi was ousted.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has warned of a "tougher response" if any more stray fire from Syria comes across the border.

Israel fired warning shots after a stray mortar shell fired from Syria hit a military post on the occupied Golan Heights.

It was the first time Israel had fired across the armistice line since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the stray shell caused no injuries or damage.

It was the second time in a few days that Syrian shells landed on the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed.

The two countries remain technically at war.

Based on Reuters and AFP reporting
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