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

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