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Rebuff of missile request helps Assad-Syria opposition leader

By Yara Bayoumy and William Maclean DOHA (Reuters) - The refusal of international powers to provide Patriot missile support for rebel-held areas of northern Syria sends a message to President Bashar al-Assad to "do what you want", Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib said on Wednesday Alkhatib, a popular figure in the opposition, also said he would not rescind his resignation as leader of the main anti-Assad alliance but he would still perform leadership duties for the time being.

Syria's Alkhatib says asks U.S. to use Patriots to protect north

DOHA (Reuters) - Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib said on Tuesday he had asked Washington to help protect northern areas, where rebels are in the ascendant, using Patriot surface-to-air missiles. Speaking at an Arab summit in Qatar, Alkhatib added in a speech that the United States needed to play a bigger role in helping end the two-year-old conflict in his homeland. He said the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad had to bear responsibility for what he called its refusal to solve the crisis.

Syria's Alkhatib explains why he quit as rebel head

DOHA (Reuters) - The president of the Syrian National Coalition grouping rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that world failure to back the revolt was the main reason why he had offered his resignation. Moaz Alkhatib was appointed to head the coalition last November, after Western and Gulf diplomacy to make the opposition to Assad more united. His resignation on Sunday threatened to undo much of the work of giving international clout to the two-year armed revolt.

Arab summit may struggle to paper over Syria opposition rifts

By Regan Doherty and Khaled Yacoub Oweis DOHA/AMMAN (Reuters) - An Arab Summit intended to showcase the unity of the Syrian opposition threatens to veer wildly off script and expose deepening factionalism, potentially hurting Western and Arab efforts to end the war.

Rebel mortar fire hits Damascus, army gunners retaliate

By Oliver Holmes BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels lobbed mortar rounds into central Damascus on Monday, killing at least two people and drawing a fierce army response as bombardments shook the heart of the capital. The state news agency said mortar bombs fired by "terrorists" had killed two people and wounded others near the Opera House on Ummayad Square, where Baath Party headquarters, Air Force Intelligence and state television are also located.

Syrian opposition leader Alkhatib resigns

By Omar Fahmy and Khaled Yacoub Oweis CAIRO/AMMAN (Reuters) - The head of Syria's main opposition group resigned on Sunday, in a blow to a diminishing moderate wing of the two-year uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule. Moaz Alkhatib, a former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus who had offered Assad a negotiated exit, was picked to head the Western and Gulf-backed National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in November after leaving Syria following persecution and several stays in jail.

UPDATE 3-Opposition "would talk to Assad in northern Syria"

(Adds meeting with Brahimi, deadline passes) By Khaled Yacoub Oweis AMMAN, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib said on Sunday he was willing to hold talks with President Bashar al-Assad's representatives in rebel-held areas of northern Syria to try to end a conflict that has killed about 60,000 people. The aim of the talks would be to find a way for Assad to leave power with the "minimum of bloodshed and destruction", Alkhatib said in a statement published on his Facebook page.

UPDATE 1-Syria opposition ponders course as leader offers talks

* Syrian National Coalition divided over talks offer * Leader Alkhatib said could meet Assad deputy * His meeting with Iranian minister criticised (Adds statement attacking Alkhatib, support) By Khaled Yacoub Oweis AMMAN, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Members of the opposition Syrian National Coalition have called for an emergency meeting to discuss a controversial proposal by its head to negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad's government, opposition sources said.

Syria's Alkhatib says ready to talk to Assad's deputy

BEIRUT, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib said on Monday he would accept negotiations with Bashar al-Assad's deputy but said talks must be based on the principle of the regime's departure. Alkhatib, who was speaking after meeting Iranian, Russian and U.S. officials in Germany, told al-Arabiya news channel that he had asked Iran to deliver his negotiations offer to Assad's government. (Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

UPDATE 1-Syria opposition urges Assad to respond to dialogue call

(Adds quotes, details) BEIRUT, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib urged President Bashar al-Assad on Monday to take a clear stance on his initiative for dialogue, adding that it was aimed at ending the bloodshed and to "help the regime leave peacefully". Alkhatib, speaking after meeting Russian and U.S. officials in Germany, told Al Jazeera news channel that major powers had no vision for a solution to the war in Syria and only Syrians could decide on a way forward.
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