Syrian opposition says Russia undermining US-backed peace talks

Assad's forces have been gaining ground in recent days, prompting widespread skepticism that the government will agree to a negotiated settlement. An estimated 80,000 people have been killed in more than two years of fighting.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced plans for a peace conference back in May after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The State Department remains publicly optimistic that the United States and Russia will pull off the peace talks despite recent setbacks.

"Let me reiterate where there is common ground, and that is that there is a need for a political transition," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday. "That is the best path forward for the Syrian people. That is for the Syrian people to decide who will be a part of the transitional government, that they will continue to discuss the agenda and participation at the next meeting on June 25, and that this is the best path forward. That seems a great deal that they do agree on."

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