As the death toll in Syria grows ever higher, key Damascus ally Russia says it would support the departure of President Bashar al-Assad – but only if Syrians agreed that was what they wanted.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference it would be “unacceptable to impose” such a change from outside.
And Russia remains opposed to foreign military intervention which it says would have dire consequences for the region.
Lavrov admitted the situation was becoming “more alarming” and gave his backing to an international conference on the crisis.
But he added: “We want this conference to be effective. For this reason all parties who have influence in this conflict have to participate and Iran is one of these countries.”
That comment will displease Washington and Paris have already voiced opposition to the idea of Iran being invited. They accuse Tehran of aiding the Syrian government and pro-Damascus militia.
Meanwhile United Nations monitors are still working on evidence gathered at Mazreet al-Qubeir where rebels say government forces massacred 78 people on Wednesday.
The UN team finally managed to get access to the village on Friday and say they saw indications the Syrian army had been there.