Nearly 200 Syrian opposition figures have gathered in the capital, Damascus, to discuss strategies for a peaceful transition to democracy.
Participants said Monday's meeting, held at a hotel in the centre of the city was unprecedented in five decades of the Baath Party's monopoly of power.
In the opening ceremony, participants sang the national anthem and held a minute's silence for the "martyrs" - both civilian and military killed in the protests sweeping Syria and a subsequent security crackdown.
Meanwhile, new video has emerged of what appears to be security forces beating men in Damascus on Friday. Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the footage but it reveals protesters being hit with batons by men in uniform.
Several of the protesters are then stuffed into a car. It reportedly happened in the Barza district of the capital.
Anas al Abdeh, a Syrian opposition activist and head of the Damascus Declaration Abroad, spoke to Al Jazeera from London.