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New Syria Council Chief 'Disappointed' In International Support For Uprising

Smoke rises from the eastern Damascus suburbs of Arbeen after what activists say was an air strike by a fighter jet on November 8.
The newly elected leader of what is currently Syria's main opposition bloc says he is disappointed in foreign supporters of the Syrian uprising.

George Sabra, head of the Syrian National Council (SNC), said at a meeting of his organization in Doha that "unfortunately, we get nothing from them, except some statements, some encouragement," while allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "give the regime everything."

Sabra was elected to head the SNC hours before it engages in ongoing Western and Arab-backed talks in Doha, Qatar, on November 10 about creating a broader opposition grouping.

The United States and other Western and Arab supporters want a larger organization that could seek international recognition, coordinate with rebels and activists inside Syria, and prepare for a transitional government.

The existing plan for the broader organization envisages the formation of a transitional government, a military council to oversee rebel groups on the ground, and a judiciary to operate in rebel-held areas.

The plan is inspired by leading dissident Riad Seif, who is reportedly seen by Washington as a potential new opposition leader,

Under the plan, a 10-member transitional government would be elected by a new 60-member umbrella group drawn from civilian activists and rebel fighters inside Syria as well as the exiles who have dominated the SNC.

SNC Prepares For Meeting

The SNC is expected to give its response during November 10 to whether it will join the broader grouping.

The SNC had asked for two postponements earlier this week while it elected its own new leadership amid concerns it will not have a dominate role in the new organization.

The SNC chose a Christian as its new leader in a move seen as a response to criticism that Islamists played too dominant a role. The SNC elected Sabra, a Christian former communist, as its new leader and Faruk Tayfur of the Muslim Brotherhood as his deputy.

After his election on November 9, Sabra immediately urged deliveries of arms to rebels and backed the holding of free democratic elections in Syria.

"We hope to have in our country democratic elections that allow people -- with all their political and religious affiliations and varied social classes -- to take part freely and help build a new Syrian nation, which the Syrian people have paid the price for in tens of thousands of victims."

Activists say more than 37,000 people -- civilians, rebel fighters, and government troops -- have been killed in Syria since the uprising against the Assad regime began in March 2012.

Meanwhile in Syria on November 10, activists say 20 soldiers have been killed by twin bomb explosions in the southern city of Daraa.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports the bombs exploded minutes apart in the back garden of a military officers' club in the city, which is the birthplace of the uprising against Assad.

Explosions targeting state security institutions have become frequent in recent months, and military intelligence branches in Damascus and other cities have been hit.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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