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February 17, 2014 AT 11:26 AM
After losing ground to Syrian forces and Islamic extremists for months, the Western-backed rebel movement announced Monday it was replacing its military chief with an experienced, moderate field commander from the south. The move is part of a broader restructuring aimed at persuading the U.S. and its allies to provide more sophisticated weapons to confront President Bashar Assad's army after diplomatic efforts to end the war failed to take off. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, accused Assad of stonewalling in peace talks and called on Russia to push its ally to negotiate with opposition leaders. He said it was clear the Syrian leader was "trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table in good faith."