The two major Syrian political opposition blocs, once foes, have drawn a roadmap that they say will eventually lead to an end to the country’s raging conflict.
The credibility of the Syrian opposition had largely been compromised over the past few years because of its perceived fragmentation. The unified front could strengthen the opposition's hand in any future talks with the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Officials of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the National Coordination Committee (NCC), after meeting in Brussels, told reporters on Friday that the roadmap entailed the establishment of a transitional governing body that will replace the Assad regime and have executive, legislative and judicial powers.
“The resolution of the crisis comes through a political process handled by the Syrians themselves under the auspices of UN," the two groups said in a joint statement.
This solution would involve "a fundamental and comprehensive change of the current political regime, including the head of the regime and all its leaders, pillars and security agencies."
It would be based on the 2012 Geneva accord which envisaged a transitional government of national unity with full powers to run the country and organise elections.
Until now, the NCC had appeared to leave the door open for Assad to play a role in a transitional government but the SNC was bitterly opposed and restated that position again on Friday.
"We do not see any role for Assad or members of his government in a transitional body," Hisham Marwa of the SNC told a press conference in Brussels after the talks.
NCC executive bureau member Khalaf Dahowd said the most important thing was the overall agreement, not Assad's role.
"We have a political agreement which gathers all the political camps. We do not think these things should prevent us from finding common ground."
Members of the SNC, the main political group in exile, have long accused the Damascus-based NCC, whose leaders have been tolerated by the Syrian government, of being too lenient and even complicit with Assad's government.
Members of the NCC, in turn, have often accused the SNC of being bankrolled by oil-rich Arab Gulf countries.
The political opposition in general has been criticised as being out of touch with reality and with no significant influence on the ground.