Syrian and international delegates have arrived in Switzerland for peace talks that few believe can succeed as the three-year-old civil war and geopolitical acrimony it has brought show no sign of abating.
An unexpected last-minute UN invitation for Iran to a peace conference on Syria has thrown the talks into doubt, with Washington demanding Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon withdraw his offer and the Syrian opposition threatening to pull out.
Eminent New Zealand anthropologist, historian and author Dame Anne Salmond stated ''an ageing society that does not care for its children has a death wish''.
The United Nations has appealed for a record $US6.5 billion for Syria and its neighbours to help 16 million people, many of them hungry or homeless victims of a conflict that has lasted 33 months with no end in sight.
Thirty-six people, nearly half of them children, were killed when Syrian army helicopters dropped improvised "barrel bombs" on the disputed northern city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
Syria has destroyed or rendered inoperable all of its declared chemical weapons production and mixing facilities, meeting a major deadline in an ambitious disarmament programme, the international chemical weapons watchdog says.
International powers are unlikely to meet their goal of convening peace talks on Syria in Geneva next month as differences emerge between Washington and Moscow over opposition representation, Arab and Western officials said.
A team of international experts has begun the process of destroying Syria's chemical gas arsenal, an official on the mission says.
A bomb attack at a government building in a town on the outskirts of Damascus has killed 31 soldiers, a monitoring group that documents Syrian battlefield developments says.
A team of chemical weapons experts has made "encouraging initial progress" as it works towards the elimination of Syria's poison gas arsenal, the United Nations says.
At least 16 people, most of them students, have been killed in an air strike that hit a secondary school in the rebel-held Syrian city of Raqqa, activists say.
Syria's government has hailed as a "victory" a Russian-brokered deal that has averted US strikes, while President Barack Obama has defended a chemical weapons pact that the rebels fear has bolstered their enemy in the civil war.
Envoys from the five permanent UN Security Council member states will meet in New York today to discuss plans to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control, UN diplomats said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have opened talks on disarming Syria's chemical weapons programmes, but differences emerged at the outset of the expected two-day negotiations.
US President Barack Obama has appealed to a dubious American public to back his bid to use military force in Syria while supporters scrambled to persuade lawmakers to authorize the move.
US Secretary of State John Kerry says tests show that sarin nerve gas was used in a deadly August 21 chemical attack near Damascus as he seeks to build the case to convince skeptical lawmakers to authorize a military strike against the Syrian government.
Britain has new evidence that chemical weapons were used in an attack on the Syrian capital Damascus, Prime Minister David Cameron says.
US Secretary of State John Kerry says the evidence of a massive deadly chemical attack last week was "undeniable" and accused the Syrian government of trying to cover it up, signalling the United States was edging closer to a possible military response.
People in Damascus stocked up on supplies and some left homes close to potential targets as US officials sketched out plans for multi-national air strikes on Syria that could last for days.
US President Barack Obama and his allies sought to convince cautious lawmakers and the public of the need to strike Syria although officials have conceded they lacked conclusive evidence that President Bashar al-Assad ordered his forces to use chemical weapons against civilians.