Violence continued to rage in Aleppo as well as Damascus on Sunday as clashes between Syrian rebel groups and regime forces tore through the country's two major cities.
Government helicopter gunships and rockets were fired at rebel forces in the Damascus suburb of Barzeh, according to Sky News, while there is also reported to be fierce fighting to the west of the city, in Mezze.
BBC correspondant Jim Muir reported that the less-heavily equipped rebel groups seem to be losing "the straight battle" in the face of the heavily armed government forces.
Rebels in Damascus are fighting running battles with Assad's forces
The regime army has escalated the ferocity of its attacks on Aleppo and Damascus over the past few days. Their offensive has been interpreted as a bid to regain to control by many, after a bomb attack killed four senior regime figures earlier this week.
Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, stands next to Daoud Rajha, right, the defence minister who was killed in the blast
Rebels have also gained some important strongholds over the past few days, including three frontier posts, according to Sky News.
Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem al-Ahmad of the rebel Free Syrian Army told a meeting in Turkey that the war was "now being waged in the heart of Syria in Damascus" reported news agency Associated Press.
However as the fighting moves into Syria's more densely populated cities, it is likely that the fatalities of both soldiers and civilans will continue to increase.
The Syrian Humans Rights Observatory recorded 2,752 deaths in July, which has marked the deadliest month since the uprising began. The UK-based group estimates that more than 19,106 people have died since the conflict began.
The Red Cross declared the conflict to have reached a state of civil war, meaning that both sides can now be prosecuted for war crimes if their violence is deemed to break international laws.
Syrians are fleeing the fighting in record numbers, with 30,000 people reported to have crossed the border to Lebanon in the past month, according to UN figures.
Images taken from an activist video purport to show government shelling in Homs. The Huffington Post UK is not able to independently verify these images
Earlier this week four senior figures were killed after a blast at the national security building, an attack described by Channel 4 correspondant Alex Thompson as "the most significant penetration of Syrian government security" since the conflict began.
The casulties including Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat the man widely regarded as the mastermind behind the government’s brutal crackdown.
Defence minister Daoud Rajiha was also killed after a blast struck the National Security Bureau on Wednesday morning and former defence minister Hasan Turkmani died, while Maher Assad, the president’s brother and the leader of the renowned 4th Armoured Division, reportedly sustained injuries.
Rumours circulated that Assad himself may have been injured in the blast or have fled the capital with his British-born wife Asma, but state TV showed footage of him swearing in a new defence minister.
General Fahd al-Freij is sworn-in as the defence minister
"I have a very clear message for president Assad. It is time for him to go," said the Prime Minister after the blast earlie rthis week.
However at the UN on Thursday afternoon, Russia and China vetoed a Security Council draft resolution to hit Syria with further sanctions.
09/09/2012 12:25 PM EDT
Syria Blasts Aleppo By Air
09/05/2012 7:50 AM EDT
Syrian City In Flames
08/25/2012 1:45 PM EDT
Lebanese Pilgrim Freed
Hussein Ali Omar, 60, one of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims that Syrian rebels have been holding for three months in Syria, hugs his mother, right, upon arrival at his house in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, 2012. Syrian rebels freed Omar on Saturday in a move aimed at easing cross-border tensions after a wave of abductions of Syrian citizens in Lebanon. The Shiite pilgrims were abducted May 22 after crossing into Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
08/24/2012 12:22 PM EDT
This image made from video and released by Shaam News Network and accessed Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, purports to show the funeral of children in Daraya, near Damascus, Syria. Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopters broke into a Damascus suburb on Thursday following two days of shelling and intense clashes as part of a widening offensive by President Bashar Assad's forces to seize control of parts of the capital and surrounding areas from rebel fighters, activists said. At least 15 people were killed in the offensive on Daraya, only a few miles (kilometers) southwest of Damascus. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network SNN via AP video)
08/24/2012 11:05 AM EDT
Lebanon Sees Heaviest Clashes In Months
Clashes between Assad supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime killed two people in Lebanon on Friday, the Associated Press reports. 17 people were injured.
The AP gives more context:
Syria was in virtual control of its smaller neighbor for many years, posting tens of thousands of troops in Lebanon, before withdrawing under pressure in 2005. Even without soldiers on the ground, Syria remains influential, and its civil war has stirred longstanding tensions that have lain under Lebanon's surface.
Read more on HuffPost World.
08/24/2012 11:02 AM EDT
A Sunni gunman fires a gun during clashes that erupted between pro and anti-Syrian regime gunmen in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. The latest round of fighting first erupted on Monday in northern Lebanon and at least 15 have been killed in Tripoli this week and more than 100 have been wounded in fighting that is a spillover from Syria's civil war. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
08/24/2012 11:00 AM EDT
Refugee Numbers Soar
@ KenRoth :
UN reports 200,000 #Syria refugees, 30,000 in past week alone. Many more internally displaced not counted. http://t.co/BaM6u59j
08/23/2012 2:00 PM EDT
Syrian boy Musataf Alhafiz, 11, who fled his home with his family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, carries his brother Saif, 9 months, while he and others take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Thousands of Syrians who have been displaced by the country's civil war are struggling to find safe shelter while shelling and airstrikes by government forces continue. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
08/23/2012 12:09 PM EDT
Heaviest Bombardment This Month
Helicopter gunships shelled Damascus on Wednesday as Syrian security forces intensified their assault on the capital. Activists report that at least 47 people were killed.
"The whole of Damascus is shaking with the sound of shelling," a woman in the neighborhood of Kfar Souseh told Reuters.
Read more on HuffPost World.
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