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Syria cleric Moaz al-Khatib to head opposition

  • A prominent Damascus cleric who fled Syria has been nominated at a meeting in Qatar to lead a new opposition coalition to against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

    Cleric Moaz al-Khatib, a former Sunni Muslim imam of the Umayyad mosque in the Syrian capital, is regarded as a moderate.

    The decision was announced on Sunday after Syrian opposition groups agreed to a deal in a bid to unite their factions.

    The opposition has been under pressure from the U.S. and other backers in the region to agree to a deal.

    Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib, 52, left Damascus for Cairo in July following several periods of detention by Syrian authorities.

    He has repeatedly called for a political solution to save Syria and end the 19-month conflict.

    More than 36,000 people have been killed in the uprising against Assad's government.