In a close run-off election in Istanbul Saturday, the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group,elected Ahmad Asi al-Jarbato serve as its new president. The post has been vacant since former President Moaz al-Khatib resigned in April over frustration over lack of international support.

In his first interview since his election, Jarba saidthe opposition would not participate in a peace conference in Geneva proposed by the United States and Russia while in its weakened military state. However, he said he expects advanced weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia “will arrive in Syria soon.” Continued divisions have been rampant in the opposition, with suggestions that the prime minister of the Syrian Interim Government, Ghassan Hitto, would resign over his inability to form a cabinet. However, Hitto said he is hoping the election of Jarba will help speed up the process. Meanwhile, fierce clashes continue in the strategic city of Homs, where the government has launched a major offensive. Regime officials reported they hadovertaken the Khaldiyeh districtof Homs, however opposition activists denied the claims.