There is no let-up in airstrikes by the Syrian government against rebel-held areas, with at least 80 civilian and rebel deaths in the last 48 hours in Aleppo and Palmyra.
But as the killing continues a new chapter may be about to open with the news that Russia and America are talking about Syria for the first time since last year.
Diplomatic contacts are underway to see if the two can forge some sort of joint position faced with the growing ISIL (also known as Daesh) threat and the possible collapse of the Bashar al-Assad regime.
While that might delight some in Washington it would create a even deeper power vacuum in Syria which Islamic extremists could exploit, and which would quicken the flight of the middle class from the country.
For the moment it appears talks are mainly to prevent any Russian forces being hit by accidental airstrikes; a tacit acceptance of Russian intervention to prop up the regime.
Moscow’s moves in Syria set the stage for Russian president Vladimir Putin’s address to the UN general assembly on 28 September, probably shifting some attention away from Ukraine and toward the conflict in Syria.
‘The trajectory that Putin was on for, (the general assembly), was to come to New York and basically be ignored,“said Andrew Weiss, the vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“And now what he’s done is…put himself in the spotlight.”
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