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In the opposition's view, the deal with Russia contains a de facto admission of the legitimacy of the Assad government, undermining the goal of Syrian uprising and the likelihood that any peace talks will result in Assad's removal.
U.S. President Barack Obama said this week that while it was still his goal to "transition" Assad out of power, dealing with his chemical weapons would come first.
Diplomats who monitored a major opposition meeting in Istanbul at the weekend said a lack of flexibility by the coalition in the way it deals with the changing diplomatic priorities, as spelled out by Obama, could rob the opposition of Western support.
The Arab- and Western-backed Free Syrian Army needs what friends it can get as it struggles to deal with mounting chaos in rebel areas.