In the VP debate, both candidates talked tough on Syria but refused to give any substantive answers - more of the usual bullshit. Meanwhile, Assad and Putin continue to target schools, hospitals and civilian neighborhoods in their terror campaign. Even the dovish Nicholas Kristof is fed up with Obama's passivity. Russian has no intention of letting Assad fall, and Obama's declaration that he has to leave has become an ironic joke.
One approach promoted by some is a cease fire for everybody but ISIS and Hamas. This would leave everybody in place, including Assad. No such plan can succeed without teeth. If Assad cavalierly violates it, then his air force, and if necessary, his person should be targeted. This could probably be done with cruise missiles.
Would the other Syrian rebels agree? Maybe, if their sponsors bought in.
This would be a glass half full-situation for all. Assad would survive and Putin would have his man in the Middle East. The rebels would have what they have. ISIS would remain in the cross-hairs.
It would be rash to be optimistic about this or any other approach.