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Syrian opposition opens first embassy in Qatar

Russia calls decision to award League seat to coalition illegal and indefensible

Gulf News

Doha: The Syrian opposition coalition, recognised by the Arab League as the sole representative for Syria, opened its first embassy in the Qatari capital on Wednesday.

In presence of Arab and Western ambassadors, the president of Syria’s opposition coalition, Muath Al Khatib and Qatari Khalid Al Atiyah, state minister for foreign affairs, cut the ribbon at the entrance to the embassy.

The national anthem of Qatar and Syria played as Qatari and Syrian opposition figures stood underneath the Syrian opposition’s flag framed in red, green, white and black balloons.

Meanwhile, Russia called the Arab League’s decision to award Syria’s seat at the organisation to the anti-regime National Coalition “illegal and indefensible”.

“In terms of international law, the League’s decision on Syria is illegal and indefensible because the government of the Syrian Arab Republic was and is the legitimate representative member-state at the United Nations,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Furious reaction

Al Khatib took Syria’s seat at the League on Tuesday as Arab leaders gathered in Doha for their annual summit. The move sparked a furious reaction from Damascus.

Russia is viewed as one of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s few allies because it vetoed three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against his government.

The foreign ministry noted that Al Khatib used the opportunity in Doha to call for the establishment of internationally-enforced no-fly zones over areas in Syria controlled by the armed opposition.

It then accused the Arab League — an organisation with which it has had tense ties throughout the two-year-long conflict — of effectively supporting a military solution to the conflict instead of peace talks.

“We are talking about the expression of open support for forces that unfortunately continue to bet on a military solution in Syria, without looking back at the suffering of Syrians, which is growing by the day,” said the statement.