Qatar hands over embassy to Syria opposition

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Qatar has handed over the Syrian embassy building in Doha to opposition group the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), it was confirmed to Arabian Business Qatar.

Nizar al-Haraki, a senior member of the SNC from Dara’a, was officially appointed as the Syrian Ambassador to Qatar on Wednesday. The building has has been closed for about a year after Qatar ceased to recognise Bashar al-Assad's ruling regime as Syria's legitimate government.

Al-Assad's regime has been fighting a two-year long uprising in Syria that has so far left approximately 70,000 people dead, according to United Nations estimates.

An anonymous member of the SNC living in Doha was unsure if the new embassy would be able to issue passports or provide diplomatic services to Syrian citizens in the oil and gas-rich Gulf state, or whether the move was purely symbolic.

“We haven’t formed a government yet, so what authority do we have?" they told Arabian Business Qatar.

According to a statement released by the SNC on Wednesday, a flag of the revolution will be raised above the embassy building in Doha.

Several countries have recognised the SNC as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The coalition has already named ambassadors to Paris and London, but neither France nor the UK have officially handed over embassy buildings to the opposition group.

Last year Qatar hosted the first Syrian election through which the SNC was formed. Several Syrian diplomats previously representing the al-Assad regime have defected to Doha since the conflict began in early 2011, including Abdelatif al-Dabbagh, Syrian ambassador to the UAE and his wife Lamia al-Harir, Syria’s charge d’affaires in Cyprus.

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