World Bulletin / News Desk
Syria said it is ready to discuss the departure of President Bashar al-Assad as part of a negotiated settlement to the increasingly ferocious conflict.
The surprise comments Tuesday by a Syrian envoy visiting Moscow emerged after Russia bluntly told the West not to meddle in Syria in the wake of US President Barack Obama's warning to Damascus over its chemical weapons arsenal.
"As far as his resignation goes -- making the resignation itself a condition for holding dialogue means that you will never be able to reach this dialogue," Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said after talks in Moscow.
But he added: "Any problems can be discussed during negotiations. We are even ready to discuss this issue."
According to political sources in Damascus, Jamil was sent to Moscow to discuss a possible plan for a presidential election in Syria in which all candidates would be allowed to stand, including Assad.
The exiled opposition umbrella group the Syrian National Council said it was studying the formation of a transitional government, but did not elaborate on whether it could include regime figures.
On the agenda for this round are issues of governance -- a political transition, the constitution and elections, as well as counter-terrorism at the request of Damascus.
A US defense official confirmed artillery is being used in the operation.
The country's health infrastructure is on the brink of collapse, with medicines running out and staff going unpaid for several months, the groups said.
-Since 2013 coup, Egyptian authorities have cracked down on dissent, killing hundreds, throwing tens of thousands behind bars
Opposition fighters advanced to positions six kilometers (four miles) away from center of Hama city
Next round of Syria talks between delegations from regime, opposition due to start Thursday in Geneva
First strike targeted a school housing displaced people west of Raqqah
Regime warplanes carried out ten airstrikes on Ein Tarma suburb
The official SANA news agency said a total of 15 people were wounded in opposition fire on Tuesday.
Turkish Red Crescent is taking part in the evacuation operation for 30,000 civilians from Al-Waer district of Syria's Homs
Governor was unhurt after his car came under fire as it was passing near a military camp in Ad-Dali city
Co-founder of campaign to boycott Israel arrested for alleged tax evasion
Egyptian authorities say they are battling a ISIL-linked group in Sinai
The ban would stop passengers bringing laptops, iPads and cameras in carry-on luggage and is thought to effect at least 12 airlines.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi makes assertion at Monday meeting in Cairo with Palestinian counterpart