Heavy clashes were reported in al-Abbaseyeen area in central Damascus between the Syrian government forces and the Free Syrian Army, Al Arabiya reported on Monday, citing activists at the Local Coordination Committees.
As many as 99 have been killed on Sunday across the country, activists said. Violent crackdown campaigns were resumed by the Syrian government troops in Damascus suburbs, Homs, Hama and Deraa, Al Arabiya reported.
Turkey has reinforced its border and scrambled fighter aircraft several times since Syria shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet on June 22 over what Damascus said were Syrian territorial waters in the Mediterranean. Ankara said the incident occurred in international air space, according to Reuters
International envoy Kofi Annan has arrived in Syria after admitting that his peace plan has so far failed to end nearly 16 months of carnage, as scores more die in the violence-wracked country.
“The Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, arrived in Damascus late Sunday for talks with President Bashar al-Assad,” his spokesman Ahmed Fawzi said of Annan’s third trip to Syria since the outbreak of the conflict.
Annan himself has said his U.N.-backed mission has so far failed to halt the bloodshed.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the United States and its allies of opposing Assad’s regime with the goal of dominating the Middle East and propping up Israel.
Syria’s state news agency SANA reported that the country’s navy staged live fire exercises to “simulate the scenario of repelling a sudden attack from the sea.”
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, also speaking in Tokyo, renewed his call on the Security Council for collective action to pressure Syria to stop the violence.
“President Assad must understand that things cannot continue as they are. Fundamental change is needed,” Ban said.
But Assad remained defiant.
The United States is “part of the conflict. They offer the umbrella and political support to those gangs to... destabilize Syria,” he told German public broadcaster ARD in an interview to be broadcast later on Sunday.
More than 17,000 people have now died and thousands wounded since the uprising began in March last year, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
On Sunday 99 people, including 61 civilians, were killed in violence across Syria, said the Observatory, which gathers its information from a network of activists and witnesses.
The death toll also included 36 regular army troops and two deserters.
Syrian forces attempted to storm the rebel strongholds of Qusayr and Rastan in the central province of Homs, the watchdog said.
Both towns have been outside regime control for months and are rebel strongholds.
Sunday’s violence followed another bloody day in which 77 people were killed, mostly civilians, the watchdog said.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s office released a statement saying she “strongly condemns the recent shelling of the Lebanese border area by Syrian artillery, causing several deaths and injuries.”
Rocket fire along the border on Saturday left two girls dead and 10 other people wounded in northern Lebanon.
The rebels have gained confidence in recent weeks, staging bolder attacks, holding pockets of territory across the country and clashing with troops only a few miles from the presidential palace in Damascus.