Syrian rebels demand half of opposition coalition seats

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Syria's Free Syrian Army demanded on Thursday they be granted half the seats in the opposition Syrian National Coalition, warning that without strong representation of fighters on the ground the group would have no legitimacy.

“We have learned that there have been compromises to expand the coalition which include bringing in a number of politicians and a similar number from the rebel forces operating on the ground,” a statement issued in the name of the Western-backed rebel military council said.


The military council had “requested 50 percent rebel and military representation,” it said. “The legitimacy of the coalition will only be granted from inside [Syria], and circumventing this rebel representation will mean legitimacy is withdrawn.”

The statement follows a deal struck in Istanbul to admit a liberal bloc of opposition activists into the coalition to dilute the dominance of Islamists in the organization.

A week into the Istanbul meeting, dissidents have failed to agree on any of the key talking points they were scheduled to agree on, chief among them the proposed peace conference that Washington and Moscow are trying to organize in Geneva next month.

The Istanbul meeting aims to push for more progress at talks deadlocked by Syria’s divided opposition.

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