Al-Jarba, Saudi prince discuss aid for Syria opposition

RIYADH – A Syrian opposition delegation held talks on Tuesday with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdelaziz regarding proposals to provide assistance to Syrian opposition forces fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Tuesday's talks focused on means of providing support to Syrian revolutionaries, the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) said in a statement.

SNC chief Ahmed al-Jarba, who led the delegation, accused the Assad regime of using proscribed weapons, including chemicals, to destroy Syria, according to the statement.

Al-Jarba also criticized the Syrian regime's calls for presidential elections, saying the move served to undermine efforts to find a political solution to the crisis.

On Monday, Syria's parliament set June 3 as the date for fresh presidential elections, in which al-Assad plans to run for a third term, triggering an international outcry.

According to the statement, which provided no further details, al-Jarba's visit to Saudi Arabia will be the first leg of a planned Gulf tour.

Syria has remained in the throes of conflict since early 2011, when a peaceful uprising against al-Assad escalated into full-fledged civil war following a violent government crackdown.

According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 150,000 people have been killed since the conflict began more than three years ago.

Around 8.8 million Syrians have been internally displaced, while some 3.2 million have fled to neighboring countries, according to Haysam al-Malih, head of the SNC's legal committee.

At last month's Arab summit in Kuwait, al-Jarba had said that Syrian opposition forces were in desperate need of weapons.

He went on to argue that a political solution to the crisis could only be achieved once "a balance of power" had been established.

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