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Middle East
Syria opposition groups back Free Syrian army
Delegates agree on ousting Bashar al-Assad and supporting Free Syrian Army but remain divided on other key issues.
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2012 02:46
Members of Syria's opposition and Arab and other foreign ministers at a two-day conference in Cairo [Reuters]

Syrian opposition groups have concluded a two-day meeting in Cairo, agreeing in general terms on support for the Free Syrian Army, the dissolution of the ruling Baath Party and the exclusion of Assad or other senior regime figures from a place in the transition, but remained divided on other key issues.

"We have agreed that solving the problem starts with the departure of al-Assad regime and his government, protecting the civilians and supporting the Free Syrian Army," Kamal Labwani, a Syrian opposition figure, said while reading the final statement of the two-day conference.

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The around 250 participants, however, struggled to settle questions including foreign military intervention and the future role of religion and failed to reach an agreement on forming a unified body to represent the opposition.

The conference opened on Monday in the Egyptian capital under the auspices of the Arab League to forge a common vision for transition in Syria after the ouster of al-Assad.

In the final declaration, conference participants described the mechanisms for a post-al-Assad transitional process, Syrian National Council head Abdel Bassat Seyda said.

He said that the participants agreed to support fully the Free Syrian Army, which is mainly main made up of Syrian army deserters who have been protecting civilians and have gained support in restive areas.

"Talking about any national unity government while Bashar al-Assad is still in power is meaningless," Seyda said.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Syrian opposition Kurdish group quit the meeting after some participants rejected including in the final statement that the Kurdish minority in Syria, which has been marginalised by the al-Assad regime, would be recognised by the opposition.

According to delegates, the disagreements focused on whether to call for a foreign military intervention to end 16 months of bloodshed. The arguments also touched on the role of religion in a post al-Assad Syria.

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