Syria's West-backed opposition refuses leader's resignation

BEIRUT (AFP) - The Syrian National Coalition has refused the resignation of its leader Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, the opposition bloc said in a statement released hours after he announced he was quitting.

Neither the coalition's presidential office nor its general assembly has accepted Mr Khatib's resignation. "They are asking Mr Moaz al-Khatib to go back to his work as the president of the coalition," the English-language statement said.

"Khatib has led the Syrian National Coalition at a very critical stage. He has pushed the Coalition forward skilfully, and has gained popularity and acceptance among the Syrian people," it added. "Khatib will continue the management of the Coalition at this stage according to the agreement of the General Assembly's members."

However, a coalition spokesman admitted to AFP that it was unclear whether Mr Khatib would go back to running the group or not. "We will have to wait and see whether he agrees to return to the coalition's leadership," said Mr Soner Ahmed Taleb.

Mr Khatib's resignation came just five days after the controversial election in Istanbul of rebel Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto, who pledged to form an interim government for the large swathes of territory inside Syria that have fallen into insurgent hands.

Mr Khatib resigned because he was under pressure from "several states, including Arab states, which aimed to make the interim government fail. This pressure annoyed Khatib", Mr Taleb said.

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