President Barack Obama called Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday and had an “intense” conversation about the need to de-escalate renewed fighting in Syria that is threatening to derail peace talks between the Assad regime and the opposition in Geneva. Obama reportedly urged Putin to lean on the Assad regime to “live up to the commitments that they’ve made in the context of the cessation of hostilities,” according to U.S. Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Putin reported stressed that U.S.-supported moderate rebels are working closely with terrorist groups in Syria. The conversation took place amid new fighting that could definitively collapse the ceasefire that has held for the past seven weeks. The Assad regime has launched a new wave of attacks with Russian air support against rebels in Idlib province and the countryside outside Aleppo, while rebel groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, which is not a party to the ceasefire, have made advances in Latakia province.

Peace talks in Geneva were suspended yesterday by the opposition delegation, which said the Assad regime is still not serious about reaching an agreement. The delegation will remain in Geneva, though, and could rejoin talks. In addition to the increasing violence in Syria placing new pressure on negotiators, the two sides are still far removed from any potential compromise. In an interview today, the regime’s chief negotiator, Bashar Ja’afari, said his goal was only to expand the government and that Bashar al-Assad’s role would not change in a final settlement — a non-starter for opposition groups. The opposition has also called for restructuring the military and security apparatus, which Ja’afari said would create a “constitutional vacuum.”