Secretary Kerry and His Advisers Sit Across From Russian President Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Before Their Meeting at the Kremlin in Russia
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Reading the "tea leaves", there appears a possible light at the end of the tunnel in Syria, this after a 3 1/2 hour meeting yesterday in Moscow between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At the conclusion of the meeting it was announced an international conference will be held in New York on Friday to discuss the Syrian crisis.
Then at a news conference Kerry made clear the "Assad must go" mantra-the key neo-con ingredient for regime change in Syria-was "a non starting position" and "The US stands ready to work with Russia", regarding the crisis in Syria as well as Ukraine-which were also part of the discussions.
That's significant as there's finally an open admission/recognition by the US the Russian stance all along supporting Assad as the legitimately elected leader of Syria must be upheld before any cease fire can be negotiated and any new elections held for the Syrian people to select a new leader or even retain Assad as president. 
Ever since Putin sent his air force into Syria on September 30, to actually take on the terrorists in close coordination with the Syrian Arab Army(SAA), the Iranian's, Iraqi's and Hezbollah forces on the ground fighting the likes of IS, al Qaeda, al Nusra Front, Syrian Turkmen and the alphabet soup of assorted proxy mercenaries, the tide has turned in favor of Assad's forces.
Although there have been numerous incidents against the Russian entrance into the fray in Syria-the downing of an Russian bomber by a Turkish F-16 fighters missile, the downing of a Russian passenger jet liner over Egypt's Sinai killing all on board-admitted to by IS- and most recently an American jet fighters attack on a SAA military outpost in eastern Syria killing 3 and wounding 13 others-this last appearing to be the last straw where Putin has announced his forces in Syria will attack, "any targets threatening the Russian groups of forces or land infrastructure must be immediately destroyed." 
Putin had made it known the Turkish shoot down incident would not go unpunished, yet at the time he chose not to retaliate. But he did move the Russian missile cruiser "Moskba" with its lethal S-300 surface to air missiles off the Syrian coast near Latakia, sent in heavy trucks carrying similar multiple ground based missiles and ordered his fighter bombers will now have jet fighter escorts with no need for prior authorization to attack any threat they encounter.
So there it is, Putin, as always means business and it appears the US through Kerry's remarks yesterday is finally coming to recognize it.
Of course we'll have to wait to see the outcome of this international conference in New York on Friday with the diplomatic exchanges then sent to the UN Security Council. But there's the sense this could be the opening of serious diplomatic negotiations to finally end the Syrian crisis; the neo-cons be damned.
 "We see Syria fundamentally very similarly'-Kerry after talks with Putin, Lavrov", RT, December 15, 2015
 "Assad Can Stay For Now: Kerry Accepts Russian Stance", by Matthew Le and Bradley Klapper, ICH, December 15, 2015
 "Putin Throws Down the Gauntlet", by Mike Whitney, ICH, December 15, 2015