First joint Syrian opposition meeting held in Spain, car bomb kills at least 18 in Hama
Syrian opposition groups, including Islamist rebels, met for the first time in Spain's Cordoba in order to "seek common ground" before peace talks scheduled for later this month in Switzerland, according to Reuters.
Both Western-backed National Coalition opposition as well as Islamist and other rebel groups based in Syria met in Spain for the two-day meeting.
"Most colours from Syria are represented here. There is even one person from Syrian security who supports Assad," said veteran dissident Kamal Labwani.
At least three members from the Islamic Front, a group of brigades who rejects the authority of the National Coalition, were also allegedly at the meeting.
"We want them to be here. We will listen to them," Labwani said in reference to the Islamist representatives.
However, severe divides between the opposition were allegedly "too deep" to come to any joint position over the course of the two days. Instead, delegates aimed to "create a dialogue."
One of the meeting's organizaers, opposition activist Fawaz Tello, said Cordoba had prepared for the meeting three months ago in order to allow the "whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition...to sit together and define a mutual vision. This is not for the election of another leadership or to decide the delegates for Geneva."
The gathering, however, is nonetheless demonstrative that the National Coalition, which is usually considered by international powers as the main opposition group, is "losing influence on the ground," and "a more comprehensive grouping" is necessary before talks begin in Montreaux on Jan. 22.
In related news on Syria, a car bomb killed 18 in Syria's central Hama province in the village of Kafat, according to Agence France-Presse Thursday.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll may rise since many of those wounded in the blast were "in critical condition."
Kafat is currently under government control.