Syria releases opposition figures held on way to Riyadh

Syria releases opposition figures held on way to Riyadh
2 min read
31 December, 2015
Syrian authorities have released two prominent members of the domestic opposition who were arrested on Wednesday as they travelled to Riyadh to meet other regime opponents, their party said.
The peace talk delegates were arrested by Syrian security forces on the Lebanese border [Anadolu]

The Syrian regime has freed two senior members of the domestic opposition who were arrested on Wednesday as they travelled to Riyadh to meet other regime opponents, their party said. 

Ahmad al-Asrawi and Munir al-Bitar, members of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC), were stopped at Syria's border with Lebanon, said the body's secretary general, Yahya Aziz.

The committee is set to choose at least part of an opposition delegation for peace talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government next month. 

The NCCDC later on its Facebook page announced "the release of our colleagues Ahmad al-Asrawi and Munir al-Bitar", calling for "freedom for all prisoners and detainees".

Earlier the group said their arrest contradicted "international efforts to reach a just political solution" to the conflict in Syria. 

A statement from the supreme committee said the pair had been due to meet other opposition figures on January 1 to finalise a delegation to negotiate with the government. 

The regime and its allies Russia and Iran are not serious about the political process, (because) they are targeting members of the Riyadh conference that are committed to a political solution," the statement said. 

The arrests came less than a week after Syria's army claimed responsibility for the killing of rebel chief Zahran Alloush.   

He said he held "the authorities responsible for their safety" and called for their immediate release. 

NCB is leading Syria-based opposition body, founded in 2011 and includes leftist, nationalist and Kurdish parties as well as individual dissidents.   

The coalition has staunchly opposed foreign intervention in Syria and its continued existence inside the country has been tolerated by the regime, though its members have been harassed and arrested.

Many opposition groups view the NCB with suspicion or accuse them of being part of the regime.

It participated in talks organised by Moscow on the conflict in 2014 and 2015. 

Both al-Bitar and al-Asrawi attended the talks in Riyadh earlier this month.