News Demonstrators protest against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outside the UN offices in Geneva during the talks on Friday

At first the talks were delayed for 24 hours, then Syria’s foreign minister threatened to walk out. But last night the two sides agreed to be in the same room. Kim Sengupta reports from Geneva on the UN mission to end the bloodshed

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (right) meets Iran's Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili, in Damascus yesterday

Assad appears on TV to send a message to doubters: I'm still here

Iran launched a double-pronged diplomatic offensive yesterday to secure the release of nearly 50 of its nationals held by Syrian rebels, a hostage crisis that has the potential to suck Tehran into a more active role in the conflict.

Leading article: The UN still has time to avert a Syrian bloodbath

Care is always in order when assessing defections. These are highly partisan acts that lend themselves to highly partisan interpretations. The precise details surrounding the departure of the Syrian Prime Minister, Riad Hijab, are unclear and may remain so. But the signals sent by his flight, which was described by his spokesman as a defection and by the official Syrian media as his dismissal – with some confusion about which came first – are unambiguous. President Bashar al-Assad's power is fracturing from within.

Syrian athletes carry their national flag

London 2012: Syrian athletes make the most of Games while civil war rages on

Athletes from Syria are enjoying their time in London despite the ongoing civil war in their home country.  

Leading article: A bout of judo diplomacy

The claim that Vladimir Putin was coming to London in a purely personal capacity to watch the Olympic judo was diplomatic artifice at its best. No doubt the Russian President was indeed keen to see his favourite sport. But his visit was also the latest in a long tradition of using sport as a cloak for politics.

Manaf Tlass is known for his love of cigars and cars

Former golden boy Manaf Tlass emerges as contender to lead Syria

Unthinkable a month ago, it was the name of regime's former golden boy Brigadier General Manaf Tlass that was on delegate's lips yesterday as the fractured Syrian opposition met in Qatar to hash out plans for a transitional government.

Leading article: Syria has no future with Assad

It was the imminent threat to civilians in Libya's second city, Benghazi, that clinched the argument at the UN for outside intervention. But with multiplying reports that the fight is on for Syria's second city, Aleppo, the signs are that even government air strikes will not spur a similar Western and Arab alliance into action. Morally, that has to be deplored. The parallels between the plights of the two populations are clear. But these are different times, and Syria is not Libya.

London 2012: 18-strong Syrian delegation refuse to speak about Assad at Olympic Welcoming Ceremony

The first medal ceremony of the London Games took place in the athletes village this lunchtime. The discipline was saying as little as possible about a barbaric regime and the run away winner was Team Syria.

The regime bombarding a rebellious area in Damascus

UK may be drawn into Syria conflict

Britain will find it increasingly difficult to avoid taking part in action in Syria, a former Army commander warned today.

A Syrian rebel watches for snipers in Aleppo yesterday

'Dozens dead' as war planes bomb Syria's biggest city

Regime fighter jets bombed the country's most populous city yesterday, according to reports from the ground, in a dramatic escalation of the conflict which drew widespread condemnation.

The Government could break the link between benefits and inflation, David Cameron said today

David Cameron presses Russia over Syria action

David Cameron has heaped pressure on Russia to back tough action against the Syrian regime amid fears the country is sliding into civil war.

Senior regime figures reported to have been killed in yesterday’s blast in Damascus include Dawoud Rajha, Syria’s Defence Minister, shown, second from right, at a ceremony with President Assad last October

Robert Fisk: Syria rebels will not claim their greatest prize

The appalling scenes in Syria begin to reflect the barbarism of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia

Dawoud Rajha, Defence Minister

Architects of regime's brutal crackdown pay the ultimate price

The Damascus bombing killed or severely injured four out of about eight of Bashar al-Assad's inner circle, who have been responsible for directing the bloody crackdown since the start of the uprising.

Leading article: Two cheers for Russia

After more than a year of bloody repression in Syria – and stalemate at the United Nations – Russia's apparent commitment to stop sending arms to the murderous regime in Damascus looks like real progress at last.

Assad would be excluded from transitional Syrian government says William Hague

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would be excluded from the transitional unity government proposed as part of a new United Nations peace plan for the country, William Hague said yesterday.

Hilary Clinton: The Secretary of State meets her Russian counterpart this evening

Diplomats seek Syrian solution after bloodiest day of the conflict

UN foreign ministers meet today to discuss plans for a transitional rule to end the violence

Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried