Senior US and Russian officials will meet international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva next week to discuss a peace conference on Syria.

However, any peace conference aimed at ending the conflict in Syria is unlikely to take place before August after G8 leaders clashed with Russia over the nature of a transitional government.

Western powers agreed in the last week to step up aid to the mainly Sunni rebels, who were driven out of the strategic town of Qusair, north of Damascus.

Foreign ministers of the Friends of Syria group of nations, which backs the opposition, are to meet in Qatar tomorrow to discuss ways to help the rebel Free Syrian Army defend the northern city of Aleppo.