News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition in Key Qatar Meeting to Unify Ranks

Smoke rises after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Deraa November 4, 2012.Smoke rises after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Deraa November 4, 2012.
x
Smoke rises after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Deraa November 4, 2012.
Smoke rises after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Deraa November 4, 2012.
VOA News

Syria's fractured opposition factions began key talks aimed at forming a united front to gain international recognition and bolster their chances to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The first four days of meetings in the Qatari capital, Doha, are focused on transforming the Syrian National Council, the largest opposition group outside Syria, into a representative government-in-exile.  SNC leaders said the group is expected to expand from about 200 members to 400.

A separate meeting of the wider opposition movement in Doha aims to form a united coalition that includes rebel fighters and others inside Syria.

Influential opposition figure Riad Seif has proposed a structure that blends the rebel Free Syrian Army, regional military councils and other insurgent units alongside civilian bodies and prominent opposition figures.

A Western diplomat said Seif's initiative is "supported by the United States, Britain, France and possibly by some Arab countries, Qatar and Turkey."  

The exile-dominated SNC would receive only 15 seats of about 50 in Seif's proposed new united assembly.  SNC chief Abdelbaset Sieda said his group would demand a 40 percent share of any new leadership body.

Meanwhile, in Syria, state television said a car bomb near a major hotel in the capital, Damascus, wounded 11 civilians.  The Syrian conflict is entering its 20th month and has caused the deaths of an estimated 36,000 people.

Also Sunday, activists said rebels captured one of the country's major oilfields in eastern Deir Ezzor province, following three days of fierce fighting with government troops protecting the facility.  The al-Ward oilfield is near the border with Iraq.

Oil was a major source of revenue for Mr. Assad's government before the European Union and the United States imposed an embargo on Syria's crude exports last year to punish the country's leadership for brutally cracking down on protesters early on in the uprising.

Activists also said rebels shot down a fighter jet near the oil field.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande went to Beirut for talks with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Suleiman, to show support for the country amid ongoing violence in neighboring Syria.

That violence has spilled into Lebanon and has been growing worse in recent months.  Two weeks ago, a Beirut car bombing killed a top Lebanese intelligence official.  Lebanon's opposition blames Syria for the attack and wants Lebanon's prime minister to resign, accusing his government of complicity with Damascus.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid