Syria's fragmented opposition and rebel groups sought common ground on Wednesday ahead of planned negotiations to end a conflict which has devastated the country and drawn forces from Cold War and Middle East rivals into ever deeper combat operations.
The talks in Saudi Arabia mark the most ambitious attempt yet to unify President Bashar al-Assad's enemies around a joint political platform - seen as a crucial first step to finding a peaceful end to four years of war and battling Islamic State.
The powerful Kurdish YPG is among several groups excluded from the talks and those there are deeply divided over central issues like how to manage a transition from Assad and the role Islam should play in Syria.
But two delegates found solace in what they described as a lack of any major rupture so far among those present.
"It went well. Very positive. We discussed many things. Tomorrow we will discuss a document of general principles," said one opposition member. The groups hoped to complete the talks on Thursday, but they may continue into Friday, he said.
A member of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition said there had been broad agreement: "We discussed the main problems relating to the dialogue, the transition and all modalities related to the political process. Most of them agreed."
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters initial reports were "that it's off to a positive start and that they are beginning to make ... some progress."
More than 100 delegates were invited to the Riyadh meeting, including from the Islamist insurgent group, Ahrar al-Sham, founded by militants with al-Qaeda links, as well as opposition figures who have been based in government-controlled Damascus.
While most agree on a call for Assad to go, despite signs that some Western backers have softened their demands after recognizing that military force has failed to topple the president, rifts in opposition ranks are still clear.
Before the talks opened on Wednesday, Ahrar al-Sham complained that some delegates were "closer to ... the regime" than to the opposition. One activist in exile declined to attend alongside those who "support an Islamic emirate" in Syria.
International efforts to resolve the conflict which has killed 250,000 people and displaced 12 million have been lent added urgency by a wave of deadly attacks across the world claimed by the Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and by an escalating refugee flow which has caused a crisis in Europe.
Major powers agreed in Vienna last month to revive diplomatic efforts to end the war, calling for peace talks to start by Jan. 1.
That prompted Saudi Arabia, which projects itself as a leader of the Middle East's Sunni Muslims, to summon the mainly Sunni opposition and rebel groups. The move angered rival Shi'ite Iran which said the initiative threatened to harm the Vienna process.
The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, whose country is also a major supporter of the Syrian rebels, said the Riyadh meeting represented a "golden opportunity (for the Syrian opposition) to unify their ranks and coordinate their steps beyond setting up a negotiating team".
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر