Nineteen Syrian rebel groups have spurned participation in peace talks and rattled a saber toward those who decide to engage with Bashar al-Assad’s regime, CNN reports. “We consider participation in Geneva II and negotiating with the regime is trading the blood of martyrs and treason, and those will be held accountable in our courts,” the coalition said in a video statement Sunday. The groups said they’ll reject outright any resolution that does not call for ousting the al-Assad government and holding its members accountable for war crimes.
A proposed conference in Geneva, Switzerland, between Syrian government officials and opposition leaders, intended to broker an end to the country’s civil war, has been delayed several times but is tentatively scheduled for the end of November. During the war, many opposition groups have emerged, and their politics range from militant Islamist to relatively pro-Western. This particular consortium of 19 opposition groups is a coalition of mostly Islamist rebels who aren’t part of the hard-line radical fringe that has ties with al Qaeda inside Syria. The portion of the statement calling involvement in the talks “treason” and warning of accountability “in our courts” is directed at – and publicly undermines – the figurehead umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, which is based in Istanbul, Turkey.