United Syrian Opposition Seeks Recognition

Posted November 12th, 2012 at 10:20 am (UTC-5)
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The leader of Syria's newly united opposition headed to Arab League headquarters in Cairo seeking diplomatic recognition Monday, bolstered by a hard-won unity deal among the disparate factions.

Ahmed Maath al-Khatib, a moderate Muslim cleric who quit Syria three months ago, was to be accompanied on his visit by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabir Al Thani, whose government hosted the marathon four-day talks that culminated in Sunday's agreement.

Businessman Riad Seif and well-known female activist Suhair al-Attasi were also elected as vice presidents at the gathering. The new coalition has united the factions fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Anti-Assad figures had struggled to achieve unity under pressure from U.S. diplomats and officials from Qatar. The opposition members say they will not engage in dialogue with Mr. Assad's government.

Also Monday, the Israeli military said one of its tanks fired into Syria and scored “direct hits” against Syrian mobile artillery in response to a Syrian mortar shell that struck the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

It was the second time in two days that Israel has responded to what it said was errant Syrian fire.

In a separate incident Monday, a Syrian fighter jet bombed a rebel-held town near the border with Turkey.

Video showed a large plume of smoke rising from the site in Ras al-Ayn, where are least four people died in the attack. Rebels took control of the northeastern town last week.

Turkey has seen a surge in Syrian refugees, including 11,000 who crossed the border late last week to escape the fighting.

The Turkish Red Crescent Society issued an emergency appeal Monday for $34 million in aid to help those displaced by the Syrian crisis. The organization says the aid would provide assistance to 100,000 people currently living in camps in Turkey, as well as providing food to 20,000 people along the Turkey-Syria border. The funds would also create a contingency food stock for additional 50,000 people.

Syrian helicopters also attacked an area near Ras al-Ayn on Monday, while the opposition Local Coordination Committees reported shelling around the capital, Damascus.