DOHA - Syria's splintered opposition factions prepared to begin talks in Qatar on Sunday on a common front to gain international respect and recognition and, crucially, better weapons for their quest to oust President Bashar Assad.
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It was the first concerted attempt to meld opposition groups based abroad and align them with rebels fighting in Syria, to help end a 19-month-old conflict that has killed over 32,000 lives, devastated swathes of the major Arab country and threatens to widen into a regional sectarian conflagration.
Divisions between Islamists and secularists as well as between those inside Syria and opposition figures based abroad have thwarted prior attempts to forge a united opposition.
Four days of talks in the Qatari capital Doha are expected with the goal of expanding and broadening the Syrian National Council (SNC), the largest of the overseas-based opposition groups, from some 200 members to 400, SNC politicians said.