Syria's U.S.-backed political opposition group based in Turkey, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, announced the election of a new president in a statement released on Monday. Khaled Khoja, 49, a Damascus-based doctor, takes over from Hadi al-Bahra, who was elected as the president in July last year.
Khoja was reportedly elected president in a vote during a meeting of the coalition in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sunday night. He won 56 out of the 106 votes cast by the 111-member body. Al-Bahra, who had finished his six-month term, did not run for the second term, according to media reports.
The coalition, which is the main body representing Syrian opposition groups outside the country, exercises little power within Syria. Most rebel groups, including the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, have reportedly rejected the legitimacy of the coalition, terming it a “proxy of Turkey and Qatar.”
While the coalition aims to end the almost four-year-long Syrian civil war that has left over 200,000 dead and displaced over 7 million people, two previous rounds of talks, involving the Syrian government, opposition forces and international mediators, held in Geneva in June 2012 and January 2014, have so far failed to produce a solution to end the violence.