Syrian opposition opens first embassy in Qatar

Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Al-Khatib (C) speaks to journalists during the Arab League summit in Doha March 26, 2013.(Reuters)

The Syrian opposition coalition, recognized by the Arab League as the sole representative for Syria, opened its first embassy in the Qatari capital Doha on Wednesday.

In presence of Arab and Western ambassadors, the president of Syria’s opposition coalition, Moaz Al-Khatib and Qatari Khalidal Al-Atiyah, state minister for foreign affairs, cut the ribbon at the entrance to the embassy.

The national anthem of Qatar and Syria played as Qatari and Syrian opposition figures stood underneath the Syrian opposition’s flag framed in red, green, white and black balloons.

The Syrian embassy itself remains closed since diplomatic ties were severed between Gulf states and Syria in November 2011 over its crackdown on dissent that has morphed into a civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people.

The ceremony came a day after the Arab League welcomed the Coalition to take the seat of Syria at the Arab summit in Doha. In a speech addressing the leaders, Khatib said the opposition wants to grab Syria's seat in the United Nations.

On Wednesday, Russia - Syrian regime’s most powerful ally and a long-time arms supplier - called the Arab League’s decision to award Syria’s seat at the organization to the anti-regime National Coalition “illegal and indefensible.”

Russia’s foreign ministry noted that Khatib used the opportunity in Doha to call for the establishment of internationally-enforced no-fly zones over areas in Syria controlled by the armed opposition.

It then accused the Arab League - an organization with which it has had tense ties throughout the two-year-long conflict - of effectively supporting a military solution to the conflict instead of peace talks.

In addition to Britain and France, the Arab League has approved arming opposition fighters in Syria.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 27 March 2013 KSA 18:18 - GMT 15:18
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