Last updated: 3 March, 2013

Syrian opposition chief makes his first Aleppo visit

Syria’s opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib made a first visit to the largely rebel-held northern province of Aleppo on Sunday, an opposition source told AFP.

“Khatib entered the country for a few hours on Sunday morning for the first time” since becoming head of the Syrian National Coalition in November, the source said on condition of anonymity.

“He visited Menbej and Jarablos to view the situation of residents there and to discuss their living conditions,” said the official, referring to towns in Aleppo province.

“Khatib also held meetings with local officials in the two towns to discuss the (Aleppo) provincial election that is being held today (Sunday)” in the Turkish town of Gaziantep, the official said.

The opposition-organised election for a council for the province of Aleppo is being held in Gaziantep for security reasons.

“People in liberated areas live in difficult conditions, and Khatib’s visit was part of an effort (by the opposition) to better coordinate affairs for citizens in these areas,” the official added.

Khatib’s Facebook page said the coalition chief “held meetings with (opposition) local council officials, activists in the revolution, members of the Islamic court and the judicial council. He also visited a (rebel) Free Syrian Army camp.”

Amateur video footage distributed by activists showed Khatib walking through the streets of Menbej.

The video shows Khatib, in a dark suit and scarf and accompanied by several men, in a street lined with small shops.

One man recognises Khatib and embraces him, prompting others to do the same. Other passers-by stop Khatib and pose for photographs with him.