Kerry: US, Russia agree 'concrete steps' to save Syria truce

Speaking to NBC News in Damascus, Assad insisted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had never raised the issue of his departure or a political transition.

Another American official, who has helped train members of the Free Syrian Army rebel alliance, said the U.S.-backed opposition forces have been asking why the administration keeps seeking Russian help and are growing increasingly bitter, their anger compounded by what they complain is a lack of American military support. "They define specific, sequential responsibilities all parties to the conflict must assume with the intent of stopping altogether the indiscriminate bombing of the Assad regime and stepping up our efforts against al Nusra".

Currently, Russian forces in Syria are operating in support of President Bashar al-Assad's government against a variety of rebel factions while a US-led coalition focuses its fire on the Islamic State group.

"The secretary expressed concern about repeated violations of the cessation of hostilities by the Syrian regime", United States spokesman John Kirby told reporters. But he stressed that Washington's policy has not changed "one iota".

Kerry faces some strong opposition to his efforts to woo Russian Federation from U.S. defence and intelligence officials who say Washington and Moscow have diametrically opposed objectives in Syria.

Kerry's proposal would create a new center where US and Russian militaries would share intelligence and coordinate air strikes against Islamic State and the Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate.

"Secretary [of State John] Kerry's groveling to Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday was the embarrassing culmination of this Administration's failed policy in Syria that suffers under the persistent delusion of Russian Federation as a partner", the two GOP senators said in a statement Friday.

At the start of their talks on Friday morning, both Kerry and Lavrov said that the attacks in the French city of Nice underscored the need to join together in fighting terror. Instead of easing violence against civilians, which Kerry has said he hopes to achieve, it could have the reverse effect of unleashing even deadlier attacks.

"Nowhere is there a greater hotbed or incubator for these terrorists than in Syria", Kerry told Lavrov in front of journalists earlier in the day. "And I think people all over the world are looking to us and waiting for us to find a faster and more tangible way of them feeling that everything that is possible is being done to end this terrorist scourge and to unite the world in the most comprehensive efforts possible to fight back against their nihilistic, depraved approach to life and death".

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