Syrian opposition meets in Riyadh, negotiations committee leader resigns

A Syrian opposition meeting began in Riyadh on Wednesday in a bid to unify the group’s position ahead of peace talks backed by the UN. Former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, the leader of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), backed by Saudi Arabia, resigned on Monday without explanation, Reuters reported. Opposition figures said Hijab had taken an uncompromising line that rejected a role for President Bashar Assad in a UN-sponsored Geneva peace process. The summit comes after a surprise visit by Assad to Russia a day earlier. UN peace talks mediator Staffan de Mistura urged the opposition representatives in Riyadh to have the “hard discussions” necessary to reach a “common line.”