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Talks in the Qatari capital Doha this week aim to unite Syrian exiled opponents of President Bashar al-Assad with rebels fighting in Syria.

The ultimate goal is to create a transitional government, but factions in the Syrian National Council (SNC) don’t want to take a back seat to anyone else.

The SNC’s Abdulbaset Sieda, in Doha, reiterated his urging for robust international military involvement.

Sieda told us: “An interim government cannot be formed in exile. It has to be formed on the inside to survey the needs of the people. It has to be formed on the ground and it needs aerial protection from the government’s attacks.”

Islamist-secularist divisions notably have thwarted previous opposition unity efforts and have deterred anything more than moral support from Western powers.

Our correspondent Maha Barada said: “Differences remain over timing, procedures and the nature of international support. The Thursday meeting is supposed to bring together the opposition and other Arab and international parties to help resolve the 19-month-old conflict in Syria.”

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