Syrian opposition holds talks in Damascus

At least 200 members gather outside capital a day after activists report 44 killed in protests.



    At least 200 Syrian opposition members have met outside the capital, Damascus, in a significant gathering of dissidents on Syrian soil, a day after at least 44 people were killed in anti-government protests.

    The meeting held on Saturday was organised by the executive office of the National Co-ordinating Body (NCB), a group established to unite key opposition figures inside and outside Syria.

    A news conference was planned for Sunday.

    "Participants from all Syria's opposition groups and figures are participating in the two-day meeting," one participant told Al Jazeera.

    "There are participants from Kurdish parties and young activists from the Local Co-ordination Committee (LCC) also taking part.

    "We will try to elect an executive council, about 60 members, and this council will elect an executive bureau. Tomorrow, there will be a press conference in Damascus by the commission's co-ordinator Hassan Abdul Azim. This meeting will draw the future of the opposition movement."

    Funerals follow clashes

    The meeting came amid funerals for some of the 44 people activists said were killed in the country following Friday prayers.

    Friday marked the start of the seventh month of protests in Syria, Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh reported from neighbouring Jordan.

    Clashes between security forces and protesters erupted mainly in the Idlib province, the outskirts of Homs, and in the Damascus suburb of Doumma on Friday, pro-democracy activists said.

    In the city of Hama, security agents "surrounded the Saad bin Abi Waqas mosque" anticipating a protest after Friday prayers, activists said.

    Citing activists on the ground, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group, reported several tanks and troop transports heading towards the northwest town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province.

    Elsewhere, communications were cut on Friday in Zabadani, about 50km northwest of Damascus.

    The latest deaths came after Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief, called for "coherent" global action over President Bashar al-Assad's security crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.

    Opposition protesters had called for more rallies on Friday, undaunted by the crackdown the UN says has killed more than 2,600 people.

    According to the Local Co-ordination Committee, an opposition group, since the beginning of the uprising 761 people have been killed in Homs, 594 in Deraa, and 350 in Hama.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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