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Chief of mainstream Syria opposition group resigns

Riyad Hijab

The head of Syria's umbrella opposition movement announced his resignation Monday, two days before a key conference aimed at forming a new delegation to upcoming peace talks in Geneva, according to the Daily Mail.

In a statement on Twitter, Riad Hijab said he was stepping down after nearly two years serving as the head of the Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee.

"I find myself today forced to announce my resignation from the High Negotiations Committee, wishing them further achievements, and wishing for my beloved country Syria peace, security, and stability," he wrote in Arabic.

Hijab was serving as Syria's prime minister when he defected in 2012, and took charge of the opposition HNC when it was formed in December 2015 in Saudi Arabia.

He did not provide specific reasons for his resignation but said he had faced "attempts to lower the ceiling of the revolution and prolong the regime of Bashar al-Assad."

Immediately after Hijab's resignation, several other HNC officials including Suheir Atassi and Riad Naassan Agha also announced they were withdrawing from the body.

The resignations come just two days before opposition figures are to gather in Riyadh, at the invitation of the Saudi foreign ministry, to prepare for UN-led peace talks later this month.