US Secretary of State John Kerry opened talks in Vienna on Friday with his Russian, Saudi, and Turkish counterparts aimed at reviving a moribund effort to end Syria’s civil war. Kerry began a day-long series of meetings in the Austrian capital by consulting with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu, both of whom share the US view that Syrian President Bashar Assad must go for the conflict is to be resolved. Kerry then met separately with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, whose country is one of Assad’s prime backers. On Thursday in Berlin, Kerry said one focus of the talks would be to consider “a broader participation of very necessary countries, all of whom need to be at the table” to discuss the way forward in Syria. Russia is keen to bring Assad’s other main supporter, Iran, into the talks, but Saudi Arabia in particular is opposed. Lavrov was quoted as saying that the Russian and Jordanian militaries have agreed to coordinate actions on Syria via a special working mechanism in Amman. [AP, 10/23/2015]

Russian lawmakers visit Syria
Several Russian lawmakers arrived in Syria on Friday for a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad on the day when foreign policy chiefs of Russia, the United States, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are discussing a political settlement to Syria’s civil war. The legislators from both chambers of the Russian parliament said they are on a humanitarian mission but will also be meeting Assad. [AP, 10/23/2015]

Nearly 450 killed in Russian strikes on Syria
Russian air strikes in Syria have killed at least 446 people, more than a third of them civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group said on Friday. Russia launched an air war on opponents of the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad on September 30 and says it is targeting the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) jihadist group and other “terrorists.” Of the total killed since then, 151 are civilians and include thirty-eight children and thirty-five women, SOHR Chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. SOHR also reported that at least fourteen civilians, nearly half of them children, were killed on Friday in air strikes on flashpoint town of Talbiseh in central Syria. [AFP, 10/23/2015]

Turkey says new wave of Syrian refugees will head for Europe
Turkey is preparing for tens of thousands more refugees from Syria as government forces and Russian warplanes pound opposition-held areas in the north, and officials said many would try illegally to get to Europe. Estimates of the overall numbers on the move ranged between a UN refugee agency (UNHCR) figure of 30,000 to as many as 100,000. President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday there were “strong indications” that a new wave of migration was starting from Aleppo and renewed calls for a “safe zone” in Syria to protect civilians. A senior government official said many would try to smuggle themselves onwards to Europe, noting that, “Migrants who came to Turkey in the past had the hope of returning and saw Turkey as a temporary home. Now it has become a transit location. The final destination is Europe.” [Reuters, 10/23/2015]

For more in-depth Syria news and analysis, please visit SyriaSource