Russia and the US haven't exactly been on the same page when it comes to dealing with Syria. That appears to have changed: John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced at a midnight press conference that their respective countries have agreed to hold a peace conference "as soon as practical, possibly, hopefully as soon as the end of this month"; they intend to push the Syrian government and the opposition to attend. Reuters reports that their goal is to resurrect a plan that was agreed upon in June in Geneva to create a transitional government; it never got off the ground because it didn't spell out a fate for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The bit of unusual diplomatic unity comes as the situation seems to be growing ever worse: The New York Times reports that the UN now estimates that in the last two months, the population of displaced residents within Syria has swelled by more than 100%, to 4.25 million; meanwhile, Israel's weekend airstrikes against the country are ramping up fears that the violence could spill beyond Syria's borders. At the joint news conference, Lavrov indicated that Russia wasn't wedded to the idea of Assad retaining power. "I would like to emphasize we do not, we are not interested in the fate of certain persons," he said. "We are interested in the fate of the total Syrian people."