A resident holds a child that survived shelling after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad in the Al-Ansari neighborhood of Aleppo January 19, 2014. (REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah)
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A powerful alliance of Syrian Islamist rebels rejected upcoming peace talks Sunday, meaning that even if the negotiations reach an unlikely breakthrough in the nearly 3-year-old civil war, it will be harder to implement it on the ground.Syria's main political opposition group in exile, the National Coalition, agreed Saturday to attend the talks beginning Wednesday outside Geneva, setting up the first meeting between President Bashar Assad's government and its foes. Syria's future would be "formulated here on the ground of heroism, and signed with blood on the front lines, not in hollow conferences attended by those who don't even represent themselves," Abu Omar, a leading member of the Islamic Front, said on his Twitter account.Some 130,000 people have been killed and a quarter of Syrians driven from their homes in the civil war, which began with peaceful protests against 40 years of Assad family rule and has descended into a sectarian conflict, with the opposing sides armed and funded by Sunni Arab states and Shiite Iran. Western leaders have hailed the coalition's decision to attend talks.Senior coalition member Ahmad Ramadan said the meeting would decide who would negotiate with the Syrian government delegation at the so-called Geneva II conference.
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