Collapse of Syria peace plan: Clashes rock Damascus as rebels go on offensive

At least 168 soldiers killed in past week

BEIRUT - Armed rebels went on the offensive in and around Damascus during the night, battling regime forces at an intelligence headquarters and at several checkpoints, a watchdog said on Wednesday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had no immediate details of casualties from the latest clashes but its earlier figures show at least 168 soldiers killed in the past week, including 76 at the weekend, as the Syrian conflict becomes more bloody despite a UN-brokered ceasefire.
"Violent clashes broke out in Harasta between regime troops and rebel forces," the Observatory said, referring to a northern suburb of Damascus.
The battles were "violent," the monitoring group said, adding that "rebel forces clashed with troops at military intelligence headquarters and at a checkpoint."
Rebel forces also clashed with regime troops at checkpoints near Douma, Irbin amd Zamalka, all in the Damascus region, the Britain-based watchdog said.
Battles and shootings also erupted in several other neighbourhoods of the capital, including Tishreen.
Elsewhere in Syria, a student was killed when regime forces pounded Hreitan in the northern province of Aleppo, the Observatory said, adding that shelling continued into the early hours of Wednesday.
In the central province of Hama, a civilian was shot dead, the monitoring group added.
Rebels and regime forces also clashed in the coastal province of Latakia, where anti-regime fighters seized two security headquarters in the town of Salma, in a region known as Kurdish Mountains.
On Tuesday, 55 people were killed in violence across Syria, including 26 soldiers, 19 civilians and 10 rebels, the monitoring group said.
At least 57 soldiers were killed on Saturday, the largest number of casualties the military suffered in a single day since an anti-regime uprising broke out in March 2011.