Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib resigns

Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, ex-leader of the opposition Syrian National Coalition

The leader of the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, has resigned. Mr Khatib wrote on Facebook that world powers had failed to help the rebels, and he could only improve the situation by working outside of the coalition. Analysts say Mr Khatib believed the SNC was too heavily influenced by Islamists and foreign powers like Qatar.

However, a later report claimed that the SNC had refused his resignation and expected him to continue in his post. The BBC’s Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says the issue that brought matters to a head appears to have been last week’s election of a prime minister for an interim opposition government. The SNC chose US-based Islamist Ghassan Hitto to head the alternative administration, which is intended to govern rebel-held areas from inside Syria.

Mr Hitto’s election in Istanbul last Monday was described by some coalition leaders as a “transparent, democratic” election, but it also prompted several resignations from the SNC. And the military wing of the opposition, the Free Syrian Army, has also said it would not recognise Mr Hitto because he had been forced on the opposition. Mr Khatib may have feared that Mr Hitto’s election would further distance the outside opposition leadership from what is going on inside Syria, our correspondent says.

He said in his statement that he had promised to resign if certain “red lines” were reached, but he did not specify what those red lines were. “I announce my resignation from the National Coalition, so that I can work with a freedom that cannot possibly be had in an official institution,” he said. He added: “For the past two years, we have been slaughtered by an unprecedentedly vicious regime, while the world has looked on.

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