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    Syrian National Opposition Coalition Elects New President

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    National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces elected Khalid Khoja as its new president.

    MOSCOW, January 5 (Sputnik) – National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces has elected Khalid Khoja as its new president after the coalition's previous leader Hadi Bahra declined to run for re-election.

    "Mr. Khalid Khoja elected President. Mr. Hisham Marwah elected VP [vice-president]," the statement on the coalition's official Facebook web page said Sunday.

    Khoja received 56 votes.

    In early December, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that Russia is ready to host the initial talks between all parties of the Syrian conflict. The diplomat noted, that the talks could take place in Russian capital before the end of January.

    The representative of the coalition told the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper that the coalition and other opposition groups began to discuss Russia's proposals, but the final decision should be expected on Monday. The Syrian government earlier officially confirmed its willingness to participate in preliminary talks in Moscow on reaching an agreement to hold a conference between the sides of the Syrian conflict without any outside interference.

    Two previous rounds of reconciliation talks, held in Geneva in 2012 and January 2014 and involving the Syrian government, opposition forces and international mediators, failed to produce a practical solution to end the violence.

    The Syrian civil war began in 2011 following an anti-government uprising. For over 3 years the Syrian Army has been fighting various insurgent groups, including the Islamic State.

    According to UN estimates, the internal conflict has claimed some 200,000 lives, while over 3.2 million people have been forced to flee the country, creating a grave humanitarian crisis on a vast scale.


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