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Violence is continuing in Syria, with opposition activists saying that a warplane may have killed as many as 25 people in a strike in Aleppo province.
In Damascus, a bomb left at least five people dead and many more wounded in the Jaramana area of the city.
Meanwhile, the new international envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he viewed his new mission as near-impossible.
He is expected to visit Syria and meet President Bashar al-Assad.
Violence is continuing in Syria, with opposition activists saying that a warplane may have killed as many as 25 people in a strike in Aleppo province
Separately, the head of the Red Cross was travelling to Damascus on Monday in an attempt to improve aid access to civilians.
Peter Maurer said in a statement that “an adequate humanitarian response is required to keep pace” with the worsening violence.
In Aleppo, human rights groups said several women and children were among the 25 victims when a building was hit in the town of al-Bab.
Al-Bab, just to the north-east of Aleppo, appears to be largely in rebel hands, and has been heavily pounded by government forces in recent weeks.
Increasingly, as the conflict deepens, the regime has made fuller use of its air power – attack helicopters and fixed-wing jets – to support its ground forces as they try to root out the lightly-armed rebels from towns, cities and villages all over the country, our correspondent says.
In the car bombing in the Damascus suburb, one building was badly damaged and Syrian state news agency Sana reported that women and children were among the victims. Sana blamed “an armed terrorist group” for the attack.
The explosion is the second deadly bombing within a week targeting the predominantly Druze and Christian area of Jaramana.
At least 12 people were killed when a car bomb blew up at a funeral for two people said by opposition activists to have been supporters of President Bashar al-Assad.
President Bashar al-Assad has said Syrian government needs more time to “win the battle” against rebel forces.
In an interview with pro-government al-Dunya TV, Bashar al-Assad also dismissed as “unrealistic” the idea of creating humanitarian buffer zones within Syria.
Opposition activists say the army has launched offensives across the country to regain control of rebel-held areas.
Heavy shelling was reported on Tuesday in the capital, Damascus, Aleppo, and the north-western province of Idlib.
Bashar al-Assad said the Syrian government was “fighting a battle both regionally and internationally”.
“It definitely needs time to bring it to a decisive end. But I can sum it up in one sentence: we’re heading forward,” he told al-Dunya.
“The situation on the ground is better now, but the conclusion is not there yet. That needs some time.”
President Bashar al-Assad has said Syrian government needs more time to "win the battle" against rebel forces
The security forces were “doing a heroic job in every sense”, he added.
“Everyone is worried about their country – that is normal. But [the rebels] will not be able to spread fear, they never will,” he said.
“I say to Syrians: destiny is in your hands, and not in the hands of others.”
The president mocked senior government and military officials who have defected in recent months, saying their departure amounted to a “self-cleansing of the government firstly, and the country generally”.
Responding to rumors about his whereabouts since a July bombing in Damascus killed four senior officials, he revealed that he was being interviewed from the presidential palace in the capital.
Bashar al-Assad also addressed the proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to set up a United Nations-sanctioned “safe zone” inside Syria to shelter refugees and help distribute humanitarian aid.
“Talk of buffer zones firstly is not on the table and secondly it is an unrealistic idea by hostile countries and the enemies of Syria,” he said.
“Do we go back because of the ignorance of some Turkish officials or do we focus on our relationship with the Turkish people, especially those people who have stood by us during the crisis and were not swayed by the media and material propaganda?”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius admitted on Wednesday that creating a buffer zone would be impossible without imposing a no-fly zone deploying ground forces.
“We are thinking about this. It is very complicated. We cannot do it without the agreement of the Turks and other countries,” he told France Inter radio.
“But what we want is for things to move forward, to make Bashar fall as quickly as possible and at the same time find humanitarian solutions.”
The UN refugee agency warned on Tuesday that as many as 200,000 refugees could flee to Turkey to escape fighting in Syria – almost double the number Turkey has said it can take.
The UNHCR said 5,000 refugees were now arriving at the Turkish border every day, compared to about 500 earlier this month. There are already more than 74,000 in Turkey, and 128,000 in other countries.
There are also thought to be more than 1.2 million internally displaced people in Syria, and 2.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
Syrian opposition activists say scores of bodies have been found in a town near the capital, Damascus, accusing government troops of a “massacre”.
Many of those killed in the town of Darayya were victims of execution-style killings, the activists said.
According to unconfirmed reports, 200 bodies were discovered in houses and basement shelters.
Without commenting on the activists’ claim, Syrian state TV said Darayya was being “cleansed of terrorist remnants”.
Meanwhile, Syrian Vice-President Farouq al-Shara has greeted an Iranian delegation in Damascus, quashing weeks of speculation that he had defected to the opposition.
President Bashar al-Assad, who also met the Iranian delegation, said Syria would continue its current policy “whatever the cost” and accused Western nations of a regional conspiracy.
The forces of President Bashar al-Assad launched an assault on Darayya on Saturday, after days of heavy bombardment.
Syrian opposition activists say scores of bodies have been found in a town near Damascus, accusing government troops of a "massacre
The attack was part of a wider campaign to reclaim the southern outskirts of Damascus, where rebels have been regrouping since being driven out a month ago.
Activists on the ground later posted unverified video footage on the internet, which shows rows of bodies side by side in the Abu Auleiman al-Darani mosque.
The activists say that many of the victims had gunshot wounds to the head and chest and were killed during house-to-house raids by government troops.
“Assad’s army has committed a massacre in Darayya,” an opposition member told Reuters.
The activist added that most of the victims had been killed at close range, and some died from sniper fire.
The opposition Local Coordination Committees group put the death toll for Saturday at 440 across Syria.
Another opposition group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says 320 people were killed in Darayya over five days, not on Saturday alone.
The claims by the activists have not been independently verified because of restrictions placed on foreign media across Syria.
The official Syrian state news agency said: “Our heroic armed forces cleansed Darayya from remnants of armed terrorist groups who committed crimes against the sons of the town and scared them and sabotaged and destroyed public and private property.”
Meanwhile Vice-President Farouq al-Shara was seen entering his office for a meeting with an Iranian delegation, following weeks of rumors that he had defected.
State media said a “fake” email had been sent out saying Farouq al-Shara had been sacked and that this was “completely wrong”.
After welcoming the Iranian team, President Bashar al-Assad accused some Western and regional countries of trying to “deviate Syria from its stance”.
State news agency Sana quoted him as saying: “Because Syria is the cornerstone, foreign powers are targeting it so their conspiracy succeeds across the entire region.”
Local activists say the type of mass killing reportedly carried out in Darayya, with dozens of bodies being discovered following government raids, has increased in recent months.
Human Rights Watch said it was not a new pattern, but was now happening in more areas and in greater numbers.
An earlier report from United Nations observers found that both sides had carried out massacres, but the Syrian army was responsible for a far greater number of deaths.
Fighting continued in other parts of Syria on Sunday, including in the second city of Aleppo, where fighter jets dropped bombs on rebel-held positions in what was described as the fiercest fighting there in the past week.
In a separate development, the head of the UN mission to Syria left the country after the mission had been wound up.
Senegalese Lt. Gen Babacar Gaye joined a UN convoy to Lebanon on Saturday.
Last week, the UN decided against extending the mission, which was originally part of a six-point peace plan for Syria.
However, the ceasefire mandated by the plan never took hold and rising violence forced the UN monitors to be confined to their hotels since June.
The United Nations refugee agency says that more than 200,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring countries as the conflict has intensified.
The UNHCR said the figure was already more than its projection of 185,000 for the end of this year.
About 30,000 arrived in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan in the past week.
Meanwhile, activists say Syrian army tanks have reached the centre of the Damascus suburb of Darayya, after shelling killed about 20 people.
The reported offensive is part of a government military campaign launched this week to regain control of outlying areas of the capital.
The United Nations refugee agency says that more than 200,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring countries as the conflict has intensified
The violence in Syria has taken a toll on civilians, with more than 200,000 registering with the UNHCR in neighboring countries since security forces began suppressing pro-democracy protests in March 2011.
“We are now at a much higher level of 202,512 refugees in the surrounding region,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news conference in Geneva on Friday.
“In Jordan, a record 2,200 people crossed the border overnight and were received at Zaatari camp in the north,” he added.
The total reflects an increase of about 30,000 in the past week, but also takes into account a change in the way refugees are counted in Jordan.
Adrian Edwards said the deteriorating security situation in Lebanon, where 51,000 refugees are registered, was “hampering our work to help refugees fleeing Syria’s conflict, though operations are continuing”.
There are also thought to be more than 1.2 million internally displaced people in Syria, and 2.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
The main battle fronts are currently in the second city of Aleppo and in Damascus, where the government this week launched a fierce military offensive to crush rebel resistance on the outskirts of the capital.
Opposition activists said troops backed by tanks had entered the south-western suburb of Darayya on Friday afternoon, and had been seen on al-Thawra Street, in the centre.
“The rebels have mostly slipped away. The fear now is that the army will round up young men and summarily execute them, as it did in Muadhamiya,” activist Abu Kinan told the Reuters news agency, referring to a nearby suburb where the bodies of as many as 40 men shot at close range were reportedly found in buildings after troops pulled out.
Earlier, the army had used multiple rocket launchers located at the nearby Talat Qawqaba military base and artillery at Mezzeh military airport to bombard Darayya.
It has targeted the town for several days, shelling it from afar and clearing it with ground troops, trying to sweep it clear of rebels.
But rebel fighters are using classic guerrilla tactics, making it difficult for the army to defeat them despite its use of massive force.
Activists said at least 70 people had been killed in Darayya in the past 72 hours, most of them civilians.
Opposition sources also reported fighting on Friday in other suburbs of Damascus, as well as heavy shelling on several districts of Aleppo.
Protesters against Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin have clashed with police in the capital Moscow, ahead of his inauguration on Monday for a third term.
The protest was peaceful until a small group of demonstrators tried to break through the lines of riot police.
Opposition activists Alexei Navalny, Sergei Udaltsov and Boris Nemtsov have all been detained.
A rival demonstration in support of Vladimir Putin has also been taking place.
Organizers said about 20,000 people took part in the opposition march – to an island close to the Kremlin – although police put the figure at about 8,000.
Alexei Navalny urged protesters not to disperse until those arrested had been released.
Protesters against Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin have clashed with police in the capital Moscow, ahead of his inauguration on Monday for a third term
Speaking to a radio station by phone from a police van, Alexei Navalny also told the protesters to insist that the authorities carry out the reforms they have promised.
Police have been blocking the protesters from crossing a bridge over the Moscow River.
Clashes broke out when more people crowded towards the bridge and riot police wielding batons pushed demonstrators back towards the rally site, witnesses said.
Protesters launched a sit-in by the police lines.
They were refusing to leave unless Vladimir Putin’s inauguration was cancelled. They were also demanding an hour of TV airtime and new elections, our correspondent says.
Dozens of protesters are said to have been arrested.
TV images then showed police storming the stage of the rally where left-wing activist Sergei Udaltsov had been addressing protesters, and taking him to a waiting vehicle.
Before he was seized, Sergei Udaltsov had called for the inauguration to be cancelled and said through a loud-hailer: “We will not leave.”
The crowd chanted back: “We are the power.”
Russia’s Interfax news agency later reported that Alexei Navalny – an anti-corruption blogger and nationalist – had been arrested and Dozhd TV tweeted that liberal politician Boris Nemtsov had also been detained at the rally.