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Syrian opposition to choose provisional PM in push for credibility

Published: Updated:

A provisional prime minister for the Syrian opposition coalition will be appointed by the bloc on Saturday, in a drive to bolster its international credibility amid high-stakes diplomacy efforts on the Syrian conflict between Washington and Moscow.

“We will be appointing a new prime minister tomorrow. It will be the first item on the agenda,” coalition spokesman Khaled Saleh told reporters after the first day of a meeting of the 115-member coalition, according to Reuters news agency.

Coalition officials have also so said they reached consensus that Ahmad Tumeh, an independent Islamist, will be appointed to run rebel-held areas where a decline into chaos threatens to undermine the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

The coalition is yet to form a clear response to a Russian initiative that proposes Assad hands over the country’s chemical weapons stockpile in return for averting a threatened U.S.-led punitive strike. But Saleh said accountability over the deaths of more than 1,000 people in a nerve gas attack in Damascus last month should come first.

“The Russian initiative is silent on the very first issue on ensuring accountability. Providing and reaching political solutions does not absolve the regime from the fact that it killed 1,466 innocent civilians,” Saleh said.

Assad denies responsibility for the gas attacks, which hit rebel-held districts.

(With Reuters)