BEIRUT - A powerful alliance of Syrian Islamist rebels rejected upcoming peace talks on Sunday, meaning that even if the talks reach an unlikely breakthrough in the three 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 on Saturday to attend the talks beginning on Wednesday in Geneva, setting up the first meeting between President Bashar Assad's government and its foes.
But the Islamic Front, an alliance of several Islamist fighting forces that represents a large portion of the rebels on the ground, said on Sunday it rejected the talks.
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 Shi'ite Iran.