1145 GMT February 24, 2018
Hijab, a former Syrian prime minister, stepped down on Monday as head of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which was formed nearly two years ago with Saudi backing to bring together political and armed opponents of Assad, Reuters wrote.
“The retreat of radically-minded opposition figures from playing the main role will make it possible to unite this motley opposition – internal and external – on a more reasonable, realistic and constructive platform,” Russia’s Rossiya 24 State Television broadcast Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying at a news briefing.
“We will support the efforts made by Saudi Arabia in this respect.”
Russia hopes to build on the collapse of Daesh to revive a political process to end the more than six-year-old war in Syria.
Hijab is one of up to 10 HNC members who have quit the opposition umbrella group, including Riyad Naasan Agha, who told Reuters its work had now been “brought to an end.”
Agha said the HNC, which has insisted on Assad’s removal from power at the start of a political transition, had been marginalized ahead of a conference of the Syrian opposition which Saudi Arabia is due to host this week.
The “expanded” conference aims to forge a united position ahead of a new round of UN-backed peace talks toward ending the conflict that erupted in 2011.