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Cleric Moaz al-Khatib to lead opposition in Syria

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Cleric Moaz al-Khatib to lead opposition in Syria
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Damascus: Damascus cleric Maath al-Khatib has been reportedly elected to head a new coalition to oust President Bashar Assad's regime at a meeting in Qatar.

Cleric Moaz al-Khatib, former Sunni Muslim imam of the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, is seen as a moderate, BBC reported.

Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib, who is 52, left Damascus for Cairo in July after several periods of detention by the Syrian authorities.

As he signed the draft agreement that formed the opposition coalition with Syrian National Council head George Sabra, Mr al-Khatib called on the international community to "fulfil its pledges", the AFP news agency reported.

Last month he called for a political solution to save Syria from further destruction, arguing that negotiation would not "rescue the regime" but enable its departure with the least harm possible.

He had earlier attempted to bring the conflict to an end and in an interview with Reuters news agency in July said: "I want the Syrian people to remain as one hand."

Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni, a Muslim Brotherhood delegate at the Qatar talks, said the new body would be called the National Coalition for Opposition Forces and the Syrian Revolution.

The group, formed after a week of talks in Doha, will have two vice-presidents - prominent dissident Riad Seif and leading secular activist Suhair al-Atassi.

BBC Beirut correspondent Jim Muir described the coalition's leadership as a carefully balanced team that was set to become the face and voice of the Syrian opposition in the coming phase.

The Syrian National Council (SNC), which was formerly recognised as the main opposition, had been concerned it might be sidelined by the new opposition body.

More than 36,000 people have been killed in the long-running uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Earlier on Saturday the Israeli military said it had fired warning shots into Syria, after a mortar round from Syria hit an Israeli outpost in the occupied Golan Heights.

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