(Associated Press) Syria’s government on Friday agreed to attend a US-Russian-brokered peace conference, according to Moscow. While this development might seem at first glance to be a step toward ending the civil war, strong skepticism persists on both sides.

Doubting that Damascus is serious and may be stalling while government forces make battlefield gains, the Syrian opposition has demanded guarantees that President Bashar Assad’s departure top the agenda; Russia questioned whether the fragmented opposition is capable of negotiating with one voice.

The war has killed more than 70,000 people, and both sides are firmly entrenched in their positions and appear unwilling to compromise to stop the carnage and chaos engulfing the country.

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