Thousands have been killed since the revolt against the rule of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad began in March of last year and there is no sign of the misery abating.
"The regime's strengths are deteriorating quickly and there are opportunities to hasten things with strategic policy decisions. "
- Mazen Asbahi, Syrian Expatriates government affairs director
On Friday, Navi Pillay, the UN's Human Rights chief said the killing of over 100 civilians in Houla last weekend may have been a crime against humanity. Pillay also warned Syria is in danger of descending into a civil war that could destablise the entire region.
And former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed his frustrations regarding the conflict and President Assad's failure to implement his UN-brokered peace plan.
"I know we are all impatient, we are all frustrated by the violence, by the killings, so am I. I think perhaps I am more frustrated than most of you because I am in the thick of things and would really want to see things move much faster than it has done. When you are dealing with these sort of issues it's not as simple as drawing up red lines and moving on, the council and the countries involved will have to keep working together to find a solution if it's not this proposal on the table it could be something else," Annan said.
"They'd like to find a way immediately, instantly to stop the massacring and to get rid of Assad ... on the other hand, they don't want another war in Asia."
-Tom Pickering, former US ambassador to Russia, Jordan, Israel and UN
There has been fresh violence on Friday, with Syrian security forces opening fire on thousands of protesters who took to the streets to mark the Houla killings. There are also reports that 13 factory workers were executed by supporters of the al-Assad regime in the west of the country on Thursday.
As President Putin visits France and Germany, the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has been making no secret of her frustration at the role of Russia who along with China, who have opposed the adoption of a tough UN security council resolution against the Assad regime.
"I repeat the appeal that I have made to Russia because their position of claiming not to take a position is certainly viewed, in the Security Council, in Damascus, and elsewhere, as a position supporting continuity of the Assad regime. And if Russia is prepared, as President Putin's remarks seem to suggest, to work with the international community, to come together to plan a political transition, we will certainly be ready to cooperate. I will be meeting in Istanbul toward the end of next week with a lot of the regional countries that are concerned about what's happening. So if Russia is prepared to help us implement all of the six parts of Kofi Annan's plan, we are prepared to work with them to do so."
So is it time for the international community to intervene to stop the violence and should the United States lead that effort?
Inside story Americas, with presenter Anand Naidoo, discusses with guests: Tom Pickering, a former US Ambassador to Israel and the United Nations; Jon Alterman, a former Middle East Policy adviser at the US state department who directs the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Mazen Asbahi, a government affairs director for the Syrian Expatriates, a US-based organisation that looks to support the Syrian opposition.
"We will do everything we can to solve this conflict and to use polItical means. That was the basis of our talks, to find a political solution. Overall, I believe that's possible. As for supplying weapons, Russia does not provide weapons that could be used in a civil conflict."
Vladimir Putin, Russian president
FACTS ABOUT CONFLICT IN SYRIA
- Kofi Annan's peace plan is in tatters as violence continues in
- At least 11 men found dead in latest Syria violence
- More than 100 died in Houla last week, including women and children
- United Nations to investigate deaths in Houla last week
- Anti-government protests began in Syria in March 2011
- Thousands dead after months of unrest across
- Fears that Libya-style intervention could send Syria into civil war
- Syrian government insists "thugs" and "foreign agents" behind violence
- Russia and China against intervention in Syria
- President Vladimir Putin says Russia will help find 'positive results'
- Fears that a civil war in Syria could spread to the rest of the region
- Some in the US think America should arm Syrian opposition fighters
- Syrian diplomats expelled by many nations after deaths in Houla