Syrian mainstream opposition groups gathered in Riyadh, blasted the military presence of Iran and its proxies in their country and asked them to leave.
More than 140 participants in the two-day conference also reiterated that they do not see a role for Bashar al-Assad in an interim period under any U.N. sponsored peace arrangement.
Some observers believed that mainstream opposition groups might soften their position on Assad, given his military successes in the past year. But in a communique, they demanded that the Syrian strongman and “his clique” leave power at the beginning of any peace process.
The communique also said that Iran-backed militias sowed "terrorism and sectarian strife" between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.
In contrast, there was little criticism of Russia by the opposition, which will elect a body on Friday to represent it in U.N. sponsored peace talks and other possible initiatives.
Russia announced on Thursday that it will undertake a major pull-out from Syria, "When we complete our tasks, military tasks”, the Chief of General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov announced.
"We will leave the Center for Reconciliation, our two military bases (in Tartus and Hmeimim) and several necessary structures to maintain the state which has developed at this time," Gerasimov added.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP