MOSCOW - The Syrian regime is ready for talks with armed rebels and anyone who favours dialogue, President Bashar al-Assad's foreign minister said in Moscow on Monday, in the first such offer by a top Syrian official.Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem was in Moscow for talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, whose country is one of the few big powers to still maintain ties with Assad's regime. Russia has renewed calls for rebels and regime to engage in direct negotiations to end the two-year conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people, warning that pressing for a military victory risked destroying Syria. "We are ready for dialogue with all who want dialogue, including those who are carrying arms," Muallem said at the talks with Lavrov.Armed rebels have battled the Assad regime since the start of the opposition's uprising against his rule in March 2011 and now control swathes of Syrian territory. "We still believe in a peaceful solution to the Syrian problem," said Muallem, pointing to the creation of a government coalition that would negotiate with both the "external and internal opposition." "There is no acceptable alternative to a political solution achieved through agreeing positions of the government and the opposition," said Lavrov.He warned that there was no point for the sides trying to fight towards a "victorious end" and warned Assad's regime not to give in to what Lavrov termed "provocations". Lavrov had said last week there were positive signs from both sides of a new willingness to talk but called on Assad's regime to turn oft-stated words about its readiness for dialogue into deeds.Russia has also been working on agreeing a trip to Moscow, possibly in early March, by the head of the Syrian opposition National Coalition Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib.The rebels had pulled out of talks with foreign powers in protest at the international community's inability to halt the bloodshed.Khatib told reporters in Cairo on Monday that his visit to Russia would be "postponed until we see how things progress". After Muallem's statement on Monday, the Free Syrian Army's chief of staff Selim Idriss said that before any dialogue could begin, Assad's regime must fall, among other pre-conditions. "I am not going to sit down with him or with any other member of his clique before all the killing stops, or before the army withdraws from the cities," he told pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Arabiya.The Moscow talks came a day before Russia’s top diplomat meets new US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin for the first time, with the Syria crisis topping the agenda. Kerry urged the Khatib-led Syrian opposition to withdraw its threat to pull out of an international meeting he will attend in Rome on Thursday."I would urge the Syrian opposition to join us as a matter of practicality and of informing us," Kerry told a news conference in London. "I want our friends in the Syrian opposition council to know that we are not coming to Rome simply to talk. We are coming to Rome to make a decision on next steps," he said.Khatib said on Saturday it was pulling out of the 11-nation meeting of the Friends of Syria to protest at the "shameful" inaction of the international community over civilian killings. But Khatib said Monday that the Syrian opposition would consider participating in the meeting after receiving "specific" promises of support from key nations. Throughout the conflict, opposition by Russia and its diplomatic ally China has prevented attempts by the West to pass UN Security Council resolutions sanctioning Assad's regime.The UN human rights chief on Monday criticised the Security Council's failure to take action. "The Security Council has so far failed with regard to Syria," Navi Pillay told ministers at the start of a regular UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.The diplomatic activity came as there appeared to be no let-up in the fighting which according to the United Nations has claimed 70,000 lives since the conflict began in March 2011.At least 30 Syrian troops and 23 rebels were killed over the past 24 hours in fierce clashes for control of a police academy in the northern Aleppo province, a watchdog said on Monday.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that rebels shot down a regime helicopter near a military base elsewhere in the north of the province as insurgents pressed on with attacks on the police academy in the west. At least 53 combatants - 23 rebels including a battalion commander and 30 Syrian troops - were killed over the past 24 hours in the fighting outside the town of Khan Assal, the Britain-based Observatory said.It said rebels took control of a building where troops were entrenched as warplanes tried to repel them and "took hostage dozens of pro-regime militants." But the pro-regime Al-Watan newspaper said Monday that "members of the police academy rebuffed the intensive attacks of armed men for the second consecutive day, inflicting heavy losses on them with artillery." The police academy is one of the last regime bastions in the west of Aleppo province.The chopper was shot down near Minnigh military airport, which rebels have been trying to stop for months, "and burst into flames after it was hit," the Observatory said.Also on Monday regime warplanes bombarded the southwestern and eastern outskirts of Damascus in a protracted bid to dislodge rebels from their rear bases, killing 10 civilians including two children, the Observatory said.Inside the capital, troops shelled rebel strongholds in the east and south, killing two civilians including a young girl, and another girl was killed in mortar fire in clashes that broke out near the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp. In the northwestern province of Idlib at least eight civilians were killed in air raids on villages in Jabal Zawiya and shelling on the rebel-held village of Khirbet al-Joz on the Turkish border.In the mainly Kurdish province of Hasake, the Al-Nusra Front and other rebels seized Tal Hamis after several days of heavy fighting and regime shelling that forced most of the town's residents to flee, the Observatory said. The watchdog, which relies on a vast network of activists on the ground and medics, said at least 92 people were killed in violence across Syria on Monday.