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Syria's Western-backed Political Opposition Again Selects President

File - Khaled Khoja (center), the head of the Syrian National Coalition, speaks during a press conference as the former Secretary General Nasr Hariri, right, and the former president Hadi Bahra, left, stand next to him, in Istanbul, Turkey, January 2015.

Syria's western-backed political opposition, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, reelected Khaled Khoja for a second term as its president, the body said in a statement.

The Coalition, accused of slipping into virtual irrelevance on the battlefield as Islamist and Kurdish groups have grown stronger, is working on establishing a new military command structure to head up rebel fighting groups.

On Saturday, it said it had decided to allow itself an additional two months to form the structure.

Khoja is an ethnic Turkmen and medical doctor, and unlike previous Coalition presidents he is not seen to be strongly aligned with either of its two biggest backers, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whose influence has previously caused rifts within the body.

In a general assembly meeting near Istanbul which finished on Sunday, the Coalition also elected a political body of 19 members and three vice presidents.

The Coalition has enjoyed support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others allies of the Syrian uprising but has become less prominent since political efforts to end the four-year conflict have appeared to go nowhere.