Syria's opposition leaders gathered for a rare meeting in Damascus Sunday, where they called for the peaceful overthrow of Bashar al-Assad.
The conference of 15 Syrian opposition parties and eight civil society movements was tolerated by Assad's regime, in an effort to show it is open to political reform despite its violent crackdown on dissidents, the Associated Press reported.
The goal of the gathering, which was organized by the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Changes in Syria (NCC), was to find solutions to Syria's ongoing crisis, and also hosted delegates from Russia, China, Iran, and other Arab nations, according to UPI.
"We are convinced that a dialogue without preconditions is the sole way out of the current crisis whose continuation bodes no good either for Syria or for the region as a whole," said Russian Ambassador to Syria Azamat Kulmukhametov, UPI reported.
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The NCC called for "overthrowing the regime with all its symbols" in a strongly-worded statement, while maintaining a "peaceful struggle to achieve the goals of the revolution," according to the International Business Times.
The rebel forces fighting Assad's regime, however, believe the "internal opposition" is too lenient on Syria's dictator, and the meeting is seen by some as way for the opposition to gain credibility as well, BBC News reported.
Assad’s military has increased its airstrikes and shelling of civilian areas in recent weeks, as it attempts to tamp down the rebellion, the AP reported. According to activists on the ground, around 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.
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