Western powers, led by the US, are considering military action against the Assad regime as evidence of a chemical weapons attack mounts.
The Russian government is warning of a staged gas attack by Syrian rebels in Idlib. Experts doubt the validity of that information, however, and see the move as a telltale sign of desperation in Moscow.
As the Syrian war appears to enter a decisive phase, Iran, Russia and Turkey are busy devising strategies to ensure they remain key players in the war-torn country. Experts say Iran's position could be vulnerable.
Syria's president believes his country is caught up in a much larger conflict than its own civil war. He warned that "things are going to be out of control" if superpowers engage in direct conflict.
Russian President Putin said the Syrian military's successes have created conditions for "the start of a political process on a major scale." Syria's Assad said progress would be made in the Astana peace talks.
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