Syrian opposition talks with Russia on a political transition in Damascus ended in discord on Wednesday as an opposition leader said Moscow's policies were helping to prolong the bloodshed in the pivotal Arab country.

"The Syrian people don't understand Russia's position. How can Russia keep supplying arms? How can they keep vetoing resolutions? There needs to be an end to mass killings," said Burhan Ghalioun, former leader of the Syrian National Council.

Russia has acted as one of Assad's few supporters, sending him arms and blocking Western-led attempts to isolate him with UN sanctions while violence in Syria has raged on, raising the death toll over 17,000, by a count of opposition activists.

Syria's opposition has conditioned starting talks with the Damascus government on Assad relinquishing power. But Russia - long a big arms supplier to Damascus - has said this is unacceptable and not part of an international peace plan laid out by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

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