Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Abdel Al-Jubeir has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, pictured, to step down or be forcibly removed from power during peace negotiations in Riyadh. File photo by UPI | License Photo
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Abdel Al-Jubeir has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down or be forcibly removed from power during peace negotiations in Riyadh.
Syrian rebel leaders have been in Saudi Arabia's capital of Riyadh to discuss forming a unified front ahead of upcoming proposed peace talks with Assad's government in Vienna, Austria, Al Jazeera reported.
Jubeir said he hopes the Syrian rebels can agree on a common vision for Syria during the meeting -- an effort to prove the rebels are not too fragmented to present themselves as a united front for future talks.
Rebels have often disagreed on the future of Syria. The Riyadh meeting is the first time rebel leaders have met collaboratively in a bid to end the nearly five-year Syrian civil war.
The Syrian rebels have so far agreed to set up a delegation of political and armed factions in preparation for talks with Assad's government. The opposition rebels have chosen a new secretary-general, a new spokesperson and a 23-member supreme negotiation commission.
The Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, endorsed a Vienna agreement made last month that would set a Jan. 1 target for peace talks to begin. A transitional government in Syria would be set up in six months and elections would be held in 18 months.
Syria has been blighted by a complex civil war in which the Islamic State, the Syrian government and multiple Syrian rebel groups fight for control of territory, causing a mass exodus of migrants seeking refuge elsewhere.
More than 3 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq and more than 1 million have reached several countries of the European Union, creating a migrant crisis that's straining economies attempting to cope with the influx of asylum-seekers.