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Syria dissident group set up 'to protect state institutions'

A group of Syrian dissidents found a group that aims at protecting state institutions' properties and its employees from violence

AFP , Saturday 15 Dec 2012
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Syrian opponents announced in Amman on Saturday the establishment of the new Free National Gathering aimed at "protecting state institutions" should the regime of President Bashar al-Assad fall.

Chief among the gathering's constituents was defected prime minister Riad Hijab, who fled to Jordan with his family in August.

"We have set up this gathering in order to protect 1.5 million people employed in Syrian state institutions," said former deputy oil minister Abdo Hussamedin, who defecting to Jordan in March.

The leadership of the new group brings together seven opposition figures, and will be based out of Doha, with Hijab slated to hold the top post.

Some 30 opposition figures, including key Syrian National Coalition members, attended the gathering's first meeting.

The group aims to "effectively contribute to the (opposition) National Coalition's project... which we are all working with in order to bring down the regime," said former MP Ikhlas Badawi, who defected in July.

The National Coalition, founded in Doha early last month, has been recognised by dozens of states and international organisations as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

Badawi also said the new Gathering would help "build a democratic, diverse and modern state."

"We work to support state employees who are sympathetic to the revolt (against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) and to safeguard state institutions and peace, now that the fall of the regime is imminent," a first press release said.

A bloody war that monitors say has left more than 43,000 people dead across Syria since March last year, has raised fears of all-out chaos should the regime suddenly collapse.

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