- - Sunday, November 11, 2012

DOHA, Qatar — Syria’s opposition agreed Sunday to unite against Syrian President Bashar Assad and elected a cleric as its first leader after four days of marathon talks in Qatar.

The Syrian National Council finally signed up to a wider, more representative bloc centered on a government-in-waiting, as demanded by Arab and Western states.

Muslim cleric Ahmed al-Khatib, 52, a moderate originally from Damascus who fled Syria three months ago, was elected to head the newly formed opposition group.

Leaders of the Syrian National Council prompted repeated delays over their concerns they would be sidelined in a broader opposition coalition.


After negotiations ran into the early hours of Sunday and resumed in the afternoon, the opposition factions agreed to form a “National Coalition of Forces of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition.”

IRAN

Parliament to investigate death of jailed blogger

TEHRAN — Iran’s parliament announced Sunday it will probe reports that a jailed blogger died suspiciously in custody last week, according to the official IRNA news agency.

This was Iran’s first official reaction to the death of Sattar Beheshti, in a rare example of parliament taking up allegations of human rights abuses first raised internationally. The case gained publicity over the weekend when the U.S. State Department and a press-freedom group called for an inquiry.

It was known that the blogger died in custody, but how he died was not disclosed.

Deputy parliamentary speaker Mohammad Hasan Abutorabifard said that the legislature’s influential committee on national security and foreign policy has been assigned to look into the circumstances of Mr. Beheshti’s death.

AFGHANISTAN

Gunman in army uniform kills coalition soldier

KABUL — A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform on Sunday fatally shot a member of the U.S.-led coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan in the latest in a spate of insider attacks that are fracturing the trust between NATO and Afghan forces.

U.S. Army Maj. Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the coalition, said the service member was killed in the south. His identity and nationality were not disclosed.

Story Continues →