With this week’s talks in Damascus on the Syrian crisis bearing little fruit, the focus is moving to Moscow as the international community seeks a diplomatic solution.
Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is driving efforts for world powers on a new plan, saying “It is clear that time is not on anyone’s side, and whoever has the ability to help end the crisis in Syria, must spare no effort”.
Brahimi is moving his push for action to Russia, a long-time ally of Syria. He will hold talks in Moscow on Saturday.
A Syrian diplomatic delegation has already arrived in the Russian capital. The Kremlin denied rumours that there is a specific Russia-US plan for Syria on the table and said Brahimi’s efforts will form part of discussions.
Meanwhile, the Syrian National Council, a coalition of groups opposed to President al-Assad, says foreigners should not be the ultimate decision makers.
“We have had talks with the US, NATO, Russia and China, but that does not mean that they will play a role in our decisions. The national coalition is independent and values that independence,” said Syrian National Council member Khalid Saleh.
Latest estimates show more than 700,000 Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. With the cold of winter adding to the humanitarian crisis, the mass exodus is set to escalate.