Damascus: Russian President Vladimir Putin has been playing host to an increasingly long queue of statesmen trying to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
The latest to arrive is Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, who held meetings on Friday and is due to meet the Russian president.
So far, Putin shows no sign of abandoning President Bashar al-Assad, a staunch Russian ally.
Al Jazeera's David Chater, reporting from Moscow, says Putin "will not sacrifice such a vital strategic partnership, no matter what weight of international pressure is applied".
Russia is opposed to any armed intervention by the West in Syria.