Syrian rebel groups have decided to attend peace talks backed by Russia and Turkey in Kazakhstan to press for full implementation of a ceasefire they say has been widely violated by the government and its Iranian-backed allies.

Russia, President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally, set the new diplomatic effort in motion after Syrian rebels suffered a major defeat last month by losing the rebel-held districts of eastern Aleppo.

The United States, which led failed efforts to launch peace talks last year, has not been involved in the latest diplomacy.

Assad has already said his government is ready to attend the talks. After winning ground with Russian and Iranian military support, he looks stronger than at any point in the war.

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