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Syria opposition opens embassy in Qatar

The move comes a day after opponents of Bashar al-Assad were given Syria seat at the Arab League.

Last Modified: 28 Mar 2013 00:28
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Opposition chief al-Khatib and Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs Khaled al-Attiya inaugurated the Embassy [Reuters]

The Syrian opposition has opened its first embassy in Qatar, a day after opponents of President Bashar al-Assad were given Damascus's seat at the Arab League.

Opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib and Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs Khaled al-Attiya inaugurated the Embassy of the Syrian National Coalition on Wednesday.

The original Syrian embassy itself remains closed.

Gulf states announced in March last year that they were closing their missions in Syria over Assad forces' crackdown on dissent that has transformed into a civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people.

The opening of the mission came a day after the Arab League welcomed the Coalition to take the seat of Syria an annual summit of the 22-member bloc in Doha.

In a speech addressing the leaders, al-Khatib said the opposition also wants to assume Syria's seat at the United Nations.

"This is the first embassy of the Syrian people," said Khatib in the ceremony that saw the rebel flag raised on a villa provided by the Qatari government.

Frustration

Al-khatib also used the ribbon-cutting ceremony to voice his frustration with world powers for failing to do more to help in the two-year-old struggle to topple Assad.

"There is an international willingness for the revolution not to triumph," he told reporters at the embassy, which was festooned with balloons in the red, green, white and black of Syria's national flag.

Nizar Haraki, named by the coalition in February as its "ambassador" to Qatar, told AFP he would "soon" present his accreditation letter to the emir of Qatar.

The coalition has named envoys in several countries, including Britain, France, Libya, Turkey and the United States, but has yet to open diplomatic missions in those countries.

Syria's seat at the Arab League has been vacant since the bloc suspended its membership in November 2011 after Damascus rejected an Arab proposal to end violence against protesters and instead pressed a bloody crackdown on dissent.

Russia, which gives Damascus military and diplomatic support, scolded the Arab League for taking "another anti-Syria step" by giving Syria's seat to the opposition.

Iran, which has sent advisers, money and weapons to help Assad stay in power, also lambasted the Arab League for allowing a foe of Assad to take Syria's seat at the summit, calling this "a pattern of dangerous behaviour".

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