DAMASCUS  - Twin suicide bombings killed at least 20 soldiers in Syria’s south on Saturday, a watchdog said, as a unity deal still eluded the opposition despite several days of foreign-backed efforts.The opposition talks in the Qatari capital Doha saw the Syrian National Council vying to keep its leading role in the face of US- and Arab-backed proposals to form a government-in-waiting that could win deeper international support.The final talks among a wide range of dissident factions kicked off under a cloud of SNC reservations, with one senior official from the bloc saying an agreement was unlikely.In Damascus, Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi called for a national dialogue, and said the army was fighting to protect the chances for talks.“The only way to succeed in Syria is to sit down at the table to launch a national dialogue,” Zohbi told state television. “The opposition must accept the choice of dialogue and... the army, by facing down terrorism, is protecting this dialogue.”Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad suffered a new blow, however, as two suicide car bombings tore through an officers’ club in the southern city of Daraa, the cradle of Syria’s nearly 20-month uprising.The blasts targeted the back garden of the club, killing at least 20 soldiers and possibly many more, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.“The two bombings were the result of suicide attacks, carried out by two men who drove vehicles loaded with explosives into the garden a few minutes apart,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.State news agency SANA reported three car bombings hit the city, killing seven people and wounding many, but did not confirm the attacks were on a military position.It also said a car bomb had wounded nine people in the southern Damascus neighbourhood of Daf al-Shawk, while state television said a rocket wounded two young girls in the capital’s Christian district of George Khoury.Syrian rebels have increasingly turned to suicide attacks and car bombs in their fight against Assad’s regime, with jihadist groups such as the Al-Nusra Front often claiming responsibility.In Doha, the SNC — once seen as the leading representative of the opposition but now derided in Washington as dominated by out-of-touch exiles — said it would put forward its own reform proposals, despite mounting frustration with its stance among other dissidents.“We have started an open dialogue with our brothers and looked at their initiative,” the SNC’s new leader George Sabra said. “But we have our own point of view and our own ideas that we plan to put forward.”SNC senior official Ahmad Ramadan told AFP it would be “difficult to reach agreement” on Saturday and that the meeting would more likely result in an announcement of “principles of cooperation so as not to end in failure”.The SNC would hold on to its “leading role in the Syrian opposition” and “reject any attempt or initiative to cancel it,” he said.The SNC had asked for two postponements in the talks while it elected its own new leadership this week, amid strong resistance from some members to what they see as the group’s sidelining in the new US-backed structure.Its counter-proposal for reform envisages the formation of a provisional government pending a general congress of the opposition, according to a document seen by AFP.The existing plan, inspired by Riad Seif who is reportedly seen by Washington as a potential new opposition chief, envisages the formation of a transitional government, a military council to oversee rebel groups and a judiciary to operate in rebel-held areas.The 10-member transitional government would be elected by a new 60-member umbrella group drawn from civilian activists and rebels inside Syria as well as the exiles who have dominated the SNC.On the ground, the army destroyed a ship carrying armed rebels on the Euphrates River in the northeast, SANA said, the first time state media has reported such an incident on the river that runs from Turkey through Syria and Iraq.Also near the Turkish border, Kurdish residents backed by militia took control of three northeastern towns in two days — Derbassiye, Tall Tamr and Amuda — after urging pro-government forces to leave, said the Observatory.The region’s Hasakeh province has seen heavy fighting, with 46 combatants killed in two days as the opposition seized the border town of Ras al-Ain on Friday.The residents had feared the same kind of violence that saw 9,000 Syrians flee to Turkey in 24 hours in the face of the fighting in Ras al-Ain, the Observatory said, adding at least 65 people were killed so far across the country on Saturday.The watchdog says more than 37,000 people have died since the uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011, first as a protest movement and then as an armed rebellion after demonstrations were crushed.k