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Syrian opposition chief demands regime release women prisoners or he'll scrap offer of talks

  • 309c57f47b51c204280f6a7067005e49.jpg

    This image taken from video obtained from Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke and fire billowing from an explosion in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Heavy fighting erupted in Damascus Wednesday as government forces tried to hold back a new rebel effort to push the civil war into the heart of the Syrian capital, activists said.(AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video) (The Associated Press)

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    Egyptian and Syrian protesters chant slogans as they protest against Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during his visit to Egypt for the 12th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, in front of the Iranian diplomatic representation office in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra) (The Associated Press)

Syria's opposition chief demands Bashar Assad's regime release all female political prisoners or he would scrap his offer of talks with the government.

Mouaz al-Khatib of the Syrian National Alliance says the women must be released by Sunday. He spoke in an interview with BBC's Arabic service late Wednesday.

Al-Khatib says the release of the women should be the beginning of the release of all Syrian political prisoners. He says Syria is holding 160,000 people over the uprising. It's unclear how many are women.

The government has ignored al-Khatib's offer for talks. Officials have previously said any dialogue must begin without preconditions.

Al-Khatib's offer, which came last week, sparked criticism from opposition activists who say the regime has killed too many people to play a role in the conflict's solution.