The United States and Russia say they believe they will soon convene peace talks to end the violence in Syria. At the United Nations, the General Assembly is expected to adopt a resolution Wednesday condemning the continued bloodshed there.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a joint news conference in Sweden that both he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are "very, very hopeful" that plans to hold a June peace conference in Geneva are progressing.
Lavrov agreed, saying Moscow and Washington are trying to mobilize support for the negotiations from Syria's government and opposition, as well as other countries concerned.
Kerry said the peace drive is based a proposal announced last year for the creation of a transitional government in Syria "with full executive authority by mutual consent," ambiguous wording which deliberately leaves President Bashar al-Assad's future role unclear.
Also Wednesday, the U.N. General Assembly will vote on a non-binding resolution that condemns Syrian authorities and accepts the opposition Syrian National Coalition as party to a potential political transition.
The resolution, drafted by Qatar, notes the SNC's widespread international acceptance as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The resolution also demands that Syria give a United Nations team free access to investigate alleged uses of chemical weapons. That team - authorized by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - is ready to deploy, but Syria has not allowed them into the country.
Russia opposes the resolution, and diplomats say the document is expected to earn less support than a previous resolution the General Assembly passed last August.
This citizen journalism image provided by ENN shows black smoke rising from what rebels say is a helicopter that was shot down at Abu Dhour military airbase, Idlib, Syria, May 17, 2013.
A Free Syrian Army member prays next to the grave of a fellow fighter in a cemetery in Deir el-Zor, May 16, 2013.
Free Syrian Army members sit in a room inside a house in Deir el-Zor, May 16, 2013.
Crews demolish one of the damaged buildings at the site of the May 11 blast, in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 15, 2013.
Members of the Free Syrian Army help a wounded fellow fighter in Deir al-Zor, May 14, 2013.
This image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC shows the mother of a Syrian rebel cleaning a rifle, in Aleppo, May 14, 2013.
Syrians wait to cross back into Syria at the Turkish Cilvegozu border crossing in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 14, 2013.
A view of the damaged Khalid ibn al Walid Mosque in Homs, Syria, May 14, 2013.
Syrian army soldiers inspect a house as they advance in on the village of Western Dumayna, near the rebel held city of Qusayr, May 13, 2013.
This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows the famed 12th century Umayyad mosque in Aleppo, which was damaged by shelling, May 13, 2013.
Meanwhile, Syrian rebels launched a coordinated assault on the main prison in the northern city of Aleppo Wednesday in an attempt to free hundreds of government opponents being held there.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said anti-government fighters detonated two car bombs outside the compound before storming the compound.
The Observatory said Aleppo's central prison is believed to be holding about 4,000 prisoners, including Islamists and common criminals.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said two projectiles fired from Syria hit Israeli-occupied Mount Hermon on Wednesday morning without causing damage or injuries. The popular resort site was initially closed for visitors, but reopened later in the day.
Syrian residents and a U.S. Internet monitoring company said Syria is experiencing a nationwide Internet outage. It is the second such cut-off in two weeks.
The U.S.-based Renesys Corp. said Syria went offline Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. local time.