Syrian forces pounded rebel-held suburbs around Damascus with fighter jets and rockets
on Sunday, opposition activists said, killing and wounding dozens in an offensive
to push rebels away from the airport and stop them closing in on the capital.
army struck hard after a week of rebel advances, including the capture of two military
bases near the capital.
Rebels had been planning to push into central Damascus
from their strongholds on the outskirts and fighting in the past week has been fierce.
The army's assaults appear to have staved off a rebel advance into central
Damascus so far. But neither side has gained ground in recent days, and fighting continued
along the outskirts of the city despite heavy shelling by Syrian President Bashar
As fighting continues with no end in sight, UN Secretary
General Ban Ki Moon stressed the need for cooperation in the international community
to bring a peaceful political solution to Syria: “The formation of a new coalition
of the opposition could be an important step towards the conditions for a comprehensive
and inclusive political process. Building a free and democratic Syria will require
political dialogue and negotiations. The United Nations will facilitate such a process.
We can only succeed if all sides take the necessary steps, and if there are converging
actions by the international community, in particular the Security Council.”
Ban deplored the “new and appalling heights of brutality and violence,” in the conflict,
now entering its 21st month.