Peace envoy Kofi Annan sought to shore up support from Moscow yesterday for his efforts to end a year of fighting in Syria where 8000 people have been killed in an anti-government uprising.

Meeting in Korea, US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan discussed how to support the opposition with non-lethal aid.

Western and Arab states want Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stand down but Russia, Syria's long-time ally, said the armed rebels must also cease fire and withdraw their forces.

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As Mr Annan, who is the United Nations and Arab League envoy, prepared to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, a US-based human rights group accused Mr Assad's forces of using human shields in their efforts to crush the rebellion.

In a statement ahead of the meeting, the Kremlin said it would be hard to enforce a halt to the violence "until external armed and political support of the opposition is terminated".

Mr Annan has drawn up a six-point peace plan, including demands for a ceasefire, the immediate withdrawal of heavy armour from residential areas and access for humanitarian assistance.

But, more than a year after the start of the uprising, the prospect of a negotiated peace seemed more remote than ever, with clashes reported around the country.