The Syrian army pressed its assault on rebels in commercial capital Aleppo on Sunday, while both sides reported atrocities and Arab foreign ministers postponed a planned meeting on the 17-month conflict.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived Saturday in Istanbul for talks on the conflict in Syria with Turkish leaders after Washington slapped fresh sanctions on Bashar al-Assad's regime and its allies.
Rebels retreated from the key Aleppo district of Salaheddin under a deadly rain of shellfire Thursday, as a veteran Algerian diplomat was set to be named the new international envoy to Syria.
The defection of Syria's prime minister was a boon for the opposition, heightening regime paranoia, but as rebels and their allies await mass defections, analysts say the ruling core remains intact.
President Bashar al-Assad vowed on Tuesday to crush the 17-month rebellion against his regime and to cleanse Syria of "terrorists", as his troops engaged rebels in key battleground city Aleppo.
Syria's prime minister joined the rebels and accused President Bashar al-Assad of carrying out "genocide" against his own people, prompting Washington to say the regime was "crumbling".
At least 13 people were killed across Syria on Saturday as fierce fighting raged in Aleppo and Damascus, the country's two biggest cities.
World powers traded blame on Friday after Kofi Annan quit as international peace envoy to Syria, complaining that his initiative to end the bloodshed there never received the support it deserved.
China expressed regret Friday over former UN chief Kofi Annan's resignation as international envoy for Syria and said it would continue to "work for a political resolution" to the conflict.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Wednesday that the army was fighting for the nation's future as UN officials said the regime was using fighter jets against rebels armed with tanks.
Fighting between soldiers and rebels broke out on Wednesday for the first time near two Christian districts of Damascus.
Syrian troops and rebels fought pitched battles near an intelligence headquarters in Aleppo on Tuesday as a military offensive in Syria's commercial capital raged into a fourth day.
Around 200,000 civilians have fled fighting in Syria's most populous city Aleppo and many more were trapped, the UN said as a fierce government offensive against rebels entered a second day.
Rebel forces were bracing Friday for a decisive "mother of all" battles in Aleppo, as Washington warned the Syrian army could be preparing to carry out a massacre in the country's second city.
In restive northwest Syria, the uprising has found an unlikely new partner in the struggle against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad: foreign Islamists who are joining the fight.
Syrian rebels have accused strongman Bashar al-Assad of moving chemical weapons to the country's borders, after his beleaguered regime said it would use its stockpiles if attacked.
Violence in Baghdad and north of the capital killed at least 37 people on Monday, the country's bloodiest day in three weeks after Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq warned it sought to retake territory.
Oil prices hit two-month highs this week, driven by Federal Reserve stimulus hopes and Middle East unrest, while soyabeans soared to a record high as US supplies were hit by drought.
Rebels seized control of Syria's border crossings with Iraq on the bloodiest day of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, as China and Russia dismayed the West by blocking UN action against his regime.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon and international envoy Kofi Annan called on the UN Security Council to take strong action on the Syria conflict ahead of a vote Thursday on a western-backed resolution calling for sanctions.
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