Syria crisis: 'Assad's forces have the firepower'
12 September 2013 Last updated at 09:53 BST
Russia and the the the US are preparing for face-to-face talks over chemical weapons in Syria.
It comes after Russia's President Vladimir Putin issued a direct appeal to the American people in an article in the New York Times.
He warned that any US strike against Syria could unleash a new wave of terrorism.
The talks, between the US Secretary of State John Kerry and his opposite number Sergei Lavrov in Geneva will focus on how to take chemical weapons out of the equation in Syria but the battle for control of the country using conventional weapons continues.
In the ancient Syrian town of Maaloula, government troops are fighting to re-take a mixed Christian and Muslim area.
The BBC's Jeremy Bowen , one of the few Western journalists in Syria, reports from Damascus after visiting Maaloula.