Syria's main anti-Assad umbrella group has voted for attending the upcoming peace negotiations, billed as Geneva II talks, in Switzerland.

The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) held a vote in Istanbul on whether or not to attend the peace talks amid deep divisions. The group has reiterated its commitment to uproot President Bashar al-Assad's regime from power.

"We are joining Geneva talks to rid Syria of this criminal [Assad]," said the bloc's president Ahmad Jarba.

"The negotiating table for us is a track toward achieving the demands of the revolution - at the top of them, removing the butcher from power."

Out of 75 voters, 58 were in favour of participating in the talks. The vote also largely reflects the pressure exerted upon the opposition by western powers and Arab sponsors.

The opposition delegates who will be heading to Montreux, Switzerland, are likely to be named shortly.

This will be first time representatives of the Syrian regime and the rebel groups are meeting face-to-face since the uprising-turned-civil war began in March 2011.

The talks will be attended by more than 35 countries intending to resolve the Syria crisis.

The talks, beginning on 22 January, are aimed at bringing to an end the three-year-long Syrian conflict, which has already killed 120,000 people displaced millions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who earlier exhorted the opposition to take part in the discussions, welcomed their latest decision.

Kerry's statement said: "This is a courageous vote in the interests of all the Syrian people who have suffered so horribly under the brutality of the Assad regime and a civil war without end."

Hailing the "difficult decision" made by the SNC, the UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "As I have said many times, any mutually agreed settlement means that Assad can play no role in Syria's future."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also praised the SNC vote saying the decision was a "courageous choice" providing a "small glimmer of hope".

On its part, Syria would "make every effort to ensure Geneva II is a success and meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and the direct orders of President Bashar al-Assad," the country's foreign minister Walid Muallem said.