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US backs new Syrian opposition council in bid to unite rebels

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(Read caption) Members of various Syrian opposition groups seen during a press conference after three-day meetings outside Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. About 150 members of the Syrian opposition met in Turkey for three days to plan for a post-Assad future, constitutional and legal reform, laws on elections and political parties and how to build a modern national army.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced yesterday that a key opposition group could "no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition," as Washington attempts to reorganize Syria's various opposition groups into a more representative, more effective structure.

Voice of America reports that Ms. Clinton said that Syria needs a united opposition movement that includes all of the country's ethnic groups and better represents the rebel fighters on the ground opposing President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian National Council, which established its headquarters in Istanbul and is made up largely by exiles and expatriates, is no longer capable of providing the necessary leadership, she said while on an unrelated trip to the Balkans.

"We've made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition," she said. "They can be part of a larger opposition. But that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard." ...


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