With the violence in Homs continuing unabated, Russia pursued its own diplomatic mission with the visit of its foreign minister to Damascus. Sergei Lavrov emerged from his meeting with President Assad saying the Syrian leader would soon roll out political reforms, promises Assad has reneged on in the past.
The US remains sceptical of any positive outcome in the wake of Moscow and Beijing blocking a UN resolution on Syria.
White House spokesman Jay Carney warned Russia about the path it was taking:
“Russia must realise that betting everything on Assad is a recipe for failure, not just for Russia’s interests in Syria but for the stability of the region and for Syria’s future.”
The US emphasis is now on supporting Syria’s opposition and offering humanitarian relief for refugees.
But pro-Assad supporters in Damascus showed their appreciation of the Russian stance.
A general acceptance in the capital that Assad is fighting unwanted foreign interference was illustrated by the burning of the Qatari flag – a country pushing for Assad to hand over power.