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Moderate Islamic preacher expected to unify Syrian opposition groups

On Sunday, Syria's fractured opposition groups came together to form a unified organization, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. Maath al-Khatib, a moderate Islamic preacher who has been imprisoned several times during the conflict in Syria, was elected president.

Islamic preacher Maath al-Khatib poses for a photo after being elected president of the newly formed Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, created after the Syrian National Council (SNC) agreed to the new group, on Sunday.

Osama Faisal/AP

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A month after pro-democracy protests erupted in Syria, Sheikh Maath al-Khatib gave an electrifying speech to a crowd in Damascus mourning Sunni demonstrators shot dead by President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite security forces.

Ordinary Alawites, said the man chosen on Sunday to unite the country's fractured opposition, were not to blame for Syria's ills -- a message Western leaders hope he can relay to what is now an increasingly radical Sunni-led armed revolt.


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