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Syrian National Council quits opposition bloc

The group said it would be going back on its ‘commitments’ to not enter negotiations until Assad left power

Published: Updated:

The Syrian National Council (SNC), the biggest bloc in Syria’s opposition-in-exile, announced late on Monday it was quitting the umbrella Syrian National Coalition in protest over the Geneva II peace talks with the Damascus regime.

By taking part in the talks, due to start on Wednesday, the group said it would be going back on its “commitments” to not enter negotiations until Syrian President Bashar al-Assad left power -- something which he refuses to do.

The move follows a dramatic series of events when U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday extended an invitation to Assad’s ally, Iran, to attend the peace conference to be held in the Swiss town of Montreux.

The coalition had threatened to withdraw from the talks altogether unless Ban withdraws the invite – which he did later on Monday.

In a statement, the coalition said it “welcomed the decision of the United Nations Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon to withdraw the invitation sent to Iran, given that Iran has not met the conditions of participation in Geneva 2 conference”.

It said it therefore “confirms its participation” in the talks which it said aimed to achieve “a political transition.”

The opposition group’s steadfast stance is that Assad must step down from power.

But the SNC has dealt a blow to the umbrella group by refusing to participate.

(With AFP)