A delegation from the Arab League, tasked with helping end the violence in Syria, met Wednesday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to facilitate the ceasefire demanded by the Arab nations in a resolution last week.
The visit from Arab officials follows a meeting in Cairo last week by the 22-nation Arab League, which gave Syria until the end of the month to stop military operations, release detainees arrested in the crackdown, and start a dialogue with the opposition, the Financial Times reported.
Many in the Syrian opposition were disappointed by the League's decision not to suspend Syria's membership in response to a crackdown which, according to the United Nations, has claimed more than 3,000 lives.
What emerged from the meeting is unclear.
An Arab League official told reporters that frank and friendly talks had been held with the Assad and more were planned, the Los Angeles Times reported, though no groundbreaking changes toward ending the seven-month rebellion were reported.
Opposition groups maintain that conversation with Assad is fruitless, while Syrian officials are wary of the League's mission.
Headed by Qatar, the league's current chair, the delegation is comprised of the foreign ministers of Algeria, Egypt, Oman and Sudan, in addition to Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.
Speaking of the long mission ahead, al-Arabi said he hopes the Syrian regime will agree to this initiative, and begin with genuine reforms.
The Syrian government, however, has adamantly defended its actions against the protestors -- while contending that Syrian security forces have never fired on peaceful protesters -- and maintained that it is being targeted in a foreign conspiracy backed by Washington and its regional allies.
President Barack Obama, backed by other Western leaders, as called on Assad to remove himself from power.
In a show of support for the Syrian president, roughly one million turned out at a pro-Assad, government-sponsored rally in Damascus' Umayyad Square on Wednesday, chanting, The people want Bashar al-Assad, SANA, the state news agency, reported.
Human Rights Watch has called on the Arab League to urge Syria to admit international observers to witness the conduct of security forces, the Times reported. Syria has limited the access of international observers and journalists, making it nearly impossible to determine what's happening on the frontlines.
The only way to make sure civilians are protected is to have on-the-ground monitors whose presence would inhibit abuse by the security services, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.