BEIRUT — A former Syrian political prisoner with close links to Saudi Arabia was picked Saturday to lead Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group, filling a post long vacant due to divisions among President Bashar Assad’s opponents. Inside Syria, government troops advanced into rebel-held areas of the central city of Homs, pushing into a heavily contested neighborhood after pummeling it with artillery that drove out opposition fighters, an activist said. The election of Ahmad al-Jarba as the head of the Syrian National Coalition came during a meeting in Turkey in what was the second attempt in recent months by Assad’s opponents to unify their ranks. The opposition bloc is primarily composed of exiled politicians with little support among Syrians back home who are trying to survive the third summer of conflict that has killed more than 93,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes. (read more at Kennebec Journal)
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