The State Department said Thursday that its top Mideast envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, has been dispatched to Morocco, France and Bahrain to help put the “friends” meeting together and determine the group’s membership and mandate.

Arab League foreign ministers are due to meet Sunday in Cairo and could announce a date and venue for the meeting after that.

“Responsibility for the bloodshed is at the feet of Assad and his regime. And they are the ones who are keeping it going,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday. “We want to help the people of Syria have a peaceful alternative, a peaceful way through this, and for Assad to understand that not only does the violence need to end, but that he’s lost his right to govern his country, from our perspective.”

She said the double veto by Russia and China has “compelled” other nations to work outside of the United Nations.

“That’s why you see this sort of groundswell of work now to get this friends group together,” she said.