Islamic cleric to lead opposition against Syria’s Assad


Damascus cleric Maath al-Khatib has been reportedly elected to head a new coalition to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime at a meeting in Qatar.
The leadership will be called as Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces. The Syrian opposition reached an agreement on Sunday after being divided for months, as per reports.
Al-Khatib, 52, is an Islamic preacher from the capital Damascus who was detained several times since the uprising began on charge of supporting anti-government groups. He ran as an independent.
He was once the preacher of Damascus’ historic Ummayad Mosque and heads the Islamic Modernization Group.
Al-Khatib is known as a moderate who has called for political pluralism and strongly opposes sectarian divisions among Syrians.
Naming him as a president of the coalition could be a move to counter Muslim extremists who are gaining power among rebel groups.
“We have agreed on the broad platform and all (opposition) parties, without any exception, support this initiative,” CBS News quoted Ali Sadr el-Din Bayanouni, a former Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leader.
According to the report, the agreement could boost efforts to secure international support, and potentially weapons, which will be crucial in the war to oust Assad.
According to the report, leading opposition figures Riad Seif and Suheir Atassi were elected vice presidents.