Despite U.S. and Western pressure on the opposition to take part in U.N.-sponsored talks aimed at halting the two-and-a-half-year-old Syrian civil war, most experts here believe the rebels are unlikely to show up any time soon. And even if they do, the results will be unlikely to change much of anything on the ground.
Syrian activists claim that government forces have carried out a "poisonous gas" attack in suburbs of the capital, Damascus, leaving hundreds of people dead.
With Syrian government forces and their allies scoring a major victory over Western- and Gulf Arab-backed rebel forces this week, neo-conservatives and other anti-Damascus hawks are trying hard to turn up the pressure on President Barack Obama to sharply escalate U.S. support for the opposition.
Syria's opposition will not participate in proposed international peace talks in Geneva next month, their leader has said.
More than 100 countries have recognised a new Syrian opposition coalition, opening the way for greater assistance to the forces fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, including possibly military aid.