Ahead of meetings with the Russians, Secretary of State John Kerry said outside the U.N. General Assembly Saturday that he believes there is an opportunity for putting an end to the bloodshed of Syria's four-year civil war, according to Reuters.

Kerry's announcement comes as the Obama administration faces several policy setbacks, including an admission that U.S.-trained rebels handed over military equipment to al Qaeda. Russian transport aircraft with fighter escorts have flown troops and equipment into Syria for 15 straight days, including Saturday, reports AFP. Russia and Iran have backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which the U.S. opposes, but in recent weeks Kerry has begun to soften rhetoric and open the door to Russian cooperation in the war against the Islamic State.

Kerry, along with European leaders, have begun to say they want to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict, which has killed a quarter of a million Syrians and displaced millions of people.

State officials said the new approach is "in its infancy" but could bring Russia together with the current coalition countries of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

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