Syrian opposition plans new government in August

DOHA Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:18pm EDT

1 of 2. A Free Syrian Army fighter positions a cannon inside a house in Jobar, Damascus July 30, 2013. Picture taken July 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/ Mohamed Abdullah

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DOHA (Reuters) - Syria's opposition plans to set up an interim government in August to run areas under rebel control, an opposition official said on Wednesday.

"There is a plan to form a government in exile 10 days after Eid," said Omar Kouch, a senior leader of the Syrian National Coalition, referring to the Muslim holiday that follows the fasting month of Ramadan, which is expected to end either on August 8 or 9, depending on the sighting of the new moon.

"We have more than one candidate for the prime minister post," he added, following a visit to Qatar by a delegation led by the coalition's new leader Ahmed al-Jarba.

The exiled opposition wants the United States and European countries to supply it with advanced weapons in the civil war against President Bashar al-Assad, and is trying to show them that it is united and credible.

It remains unclear, however, how any government in exile would exert authority on the ground among the disparate rebel factions, which include an affiliate of al Qaeda.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's civil war and a proposed peace conference, floated in May by the United States and Russia, shows no sign of materializing.

The conference is meant to establish a provisional government of national unity, including figures from the opposition and the current authorities, and to pave the way for elections.

But plans to hold it June or July unraveled after momentum on the battlefield swung in favor of Assad.

Jarba was quoted by the Qatari news agency QNA as saying the coalition realized that a solution to the civil war would require negotiation with the authorities. But he wanted to see changes on the ground in favor of the rebels before any talks could start.

"Now, we will not go to any talks until the Free Syrian Army and the other revolutionary forces are strong on the ground and coherent, as they were eight months ago," Jarba said.

(Reporting by Amena Bakr, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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