Riad Hijab, who heads the Syrian opposition council backed by Saudi Arabia, speaks during a news conference in Riyadh January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
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Syria's largest opposition coalition Wednesday named an Islamist rebel chief backed by Riyadh as its chief negotiator for peace talks slated to open on Jan. 25 in Geneva.The coalition of political and armed opposition groups demanded the exclusion of other parties from the talks and a halt to the Syrian army's bombardment and sieges of populated areas.A 33-member opposition "supreme committee" was formed at a landmark meeting last month of Syrian opposition groups in the Saudi capital.Hijab insisted the committee's delegation should be the only opposition representative at the talks, aimed at bringing an end to a five-year-conflict that has cost more than 260,000 lives.
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