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The opposition’s disunity was on display again Wednesday.
About a dozen members of the Syrian National Coalition suspended their membership a day after it elected the first rebel prime minister.
Among them were senior members including Suheir Atassi, Kamal Labwani, and spokesman Waleed al-Bunni.
Atassi said explained why she suspended her membership. "I refuse to be a follower and I refuse to be simply a woman who decorates their gatherings and conferences while they make all the decisions," she wrote on her Facebook page.
Coalition members have complained of the dominance of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood in the SNC, and Hitto was one of the top Brotherhood candidates.
In fighting Wednesday, activists reported intense clashes in the Quneitra region on the cease-fire line between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels seized control of parts of villages a few miles from the cease-fire line after fierce fighting with regime forces.
It said seven people, including three children, were killed by government shelling villages.
Activists on Facebook pages affiliated with rebels in Quneitra announced the start of the operation to "break the siege on Quneitra and Damascus’ western suburbs."
The fall of Quneitra in rebel hands would be significant because it is close to the Israeli frontier.
Israel has said its policy is not to get involved in the Syrian civil war, but it has retaliated to sporadic Syrian fire that has spilled over into Israeli communities in the Golan Heights.
Also Wednesday, Assad made a rare public appearance, visiting a fine arts school in Damascus and meeting the parents of students who were killed in the civil war, state TV reported.
Photos run by the Syrian state media showed Assad shaking hands and listening closely to people who were said to be parents of war victims. It was his first appearance outside his palace since January, when he delivered a speech.
"All of Syria is wounded, and there is no one who hasn’t lost a relative, a brother, a father or a mother," Assad said, according to the official news agency SANA.
"However, all that is happening cannot make us weak, and the battle is a battle of will and steadfastness," he added.
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