12:14 GMT +318 December 2017
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    Syrian opposition council to form administrative body on Saturday

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    The administrative body of Syria's opposition Transitional National Council will be formed during a meeting of opposition leaders in Cairo on Saturday, regional media reported on Friday, quoting the council's interim head, Burhan Ghalyoun.

    The administrative body of Syria's opposition Transitional National Council will be formed during a meeting of opposition leaders in Cairo on Saturday, regional media reported on Friday, quoting the council's interim head, Burhan Ghalyoun.

    "The Transitional National Council will hold a special meeting to elect its administrative body [members] and its chairman," Ghalyoun said.

    Syrian opposition leaders announced the creation of the Transitional National Council, aimed at toppling Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad, during a meeting in Istanbul on Sunday.

    The council involves representatives of various opposition groups, such as Muslim Brothers, Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, the Supreme Council of the Syrian Revolution, as well as independent opposition activists, Ghalyoun said.

    During the Istanbul meeting, Ghalyoun, a political scientist from Sorbonne University in Paris, said the opposition council was "open for all Syrians who support Assad's resignation and are committed to the principles of peaceful revolution."

    He also stressed that the council was "against foreign military intervention in Syria if such intervention would pose a threat to the country's sovereignty."

    On Wednesday, Ghalyoun condemned Russia and China for vetoing a UN Security Council draft resolution urging the Syrian regime to immediately stop violence against protesters or face "targeted measures." The opposition leader said the veto "encourages violence in Syria."

    Russia and China have faced strong criticism from the West for blocking the document, which was put forward by France with Britain, Germany and Portugal. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Moscow and Beijing "will have to offer their own explanations to the Syrian people and to all others who are fighting for freedom and human rights around the world."

    Russia said the Western-backed blueprint was "unacceptable" because it contained a one-sided condemnation of the Assad regime and the prospect of sanctions, which could lead to foreign military interference in Syria. Citing NATO's military operation in Libya as an example of "abuse" of UN Security Council decisions, Moscow said it would strongly oppose any attempts to overthrow "undesirable regimes" under the guise of a UN mandate.

    The number of victims of the Syrian unrest has climbed to some 3,000, according to the UN human rights body. The Syrian authorities, who have used force to quench nation-wide protests, deny the figure, speaking of 700 police and security officers killed by members of "terrorist gangs."

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