A key group within the Syrian opposition National Coalition said Sunday it would not attend proposed peace talks in Geneva and would quit the Coalition if it participated.
"The Syrian National Council, which is the biggest bloc in the Coalition, has taken the firm decision... not to go to Geneva, under the present circumstances (on the ground)," Council president George Sabra, told AFP.
"This means that we will not stay in the Coalition if it goes" to the peace talks in Geneva, he added.
He said his group would not negotiate before the fall of the government.
The international community, led by Russia and the United States, has been pushing for the Syrian government and rebels to attend a peace conference dubbed Geneva II to find a political solution to the conflict.
The proposed meeting has been delayed for months, but Washington and Moscow are now talking about a potential mid-November date for the talks.
Sabra's announcement came a day before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry were due in London to meet Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, to discuss preparations for the Geneva II meeting.
Last month, the Coalition's president Ahmed Jarba met with UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, who praised his "commitment to send a delegation to the Geneva Conference."
Ban also urged Jarba "to reach out to other opposition groups and agree on a representative and united delegation," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
Washington threatened to carry out military strikes in response to an alleged chemical attack, which the United States and the Syrian opposition blamed on Assad, a charge the Syrian government vehemently denied.
But military action was averted by a U.S.-Russian deal under which Syria is turning over its chemical arsenal for destruction.
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