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Syria Rebels Advance in Battles; Opposition Tackles Rifts

Syrian rescue workers and civilians search for survivors in the rubble of a building targeted by a government forces air strike on the northern town of Al-Bab. Photographer: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images
Syrian rescue workers and civilians search for survivors in the rubble of a building targeted by a government forces air strike on the northern town of Al-Bab. Photographer: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images

Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Syrian rebels said they made headway in battles against troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, as opposition leaders abroad work on bridging rifts and forming a united council 20 months after the start of the uprising.

The Free Syrian Army captured al-Tadamon neighborhood in Damascus early today, Al-Arabiya news channel cited activists as saying. Other parts of the capital’s suburbs, including the al-Kodam, Nahr and Aisha neighborhoods, were attacked by Assad’s forces as rebels fought to gain control, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mailed statement.

Government troops killed 234 people across Syria yesterday, including 100 in or around Damascus, the opposition Local Coordination Committee said in an e-mailed release. The group said 22 deaths in the capital resulted from government forces shelling the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. More than 35,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the observatory.

Syrian opposition leaders will continue meetings in Doha today to choose a front bearing more representation from within Syria, as per a U.S.-backed initiative aimed at luring more support for the uprising. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said today his country will host international working-level talks in late November to discuss wider sanctions to further isolate Assad.

Opposition Legitimacy

Opposition leader Riad Seif said yesterday that Syria’s resistance groups should unite and that legitimacy will come from being recognized by Syrians and the international community. Seif is a founder of the “Damascus Declaration,” a call by intellectuals for a peaceful democratic transition.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League special mediator to the Syrian conflict, met in Cairo yesterday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the head of the Arab League, Nabil El-Arabi, Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency reported. They discussed Brahimi’s efforts to solve the crisis and to bridge the gap between the Arab countries and Russia, MENA said.

El-Arabi told journalists they had talked about the conflict but reached no agreement. Lavrov said there is no military solution and that Russia’s priority is to stop the loss of innocent lives by forcing a cease-fire and negotiations.

Brahimi said blood spilled every day wouldn’t lead to victory for anyone and urged a political solution. Otherwise, Syria’s crisis may spill over to neighboring countries, he said at the news conference with El-Arabi and Lavrov.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at lnasseri@bloomberg.net; Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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