Violence Escalates in Syrian Civil War on New Year's Day
Violence in the civil war between the Syrian rebels and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has escalated as the world celebrated New Year's Day, according to international reports.
The violence came a day after activists reported finding the corpses of dozens of people who had been tortured, another sign of the gruesome nature of the conflict, and as the regime said it welcomed any initiative for talks to end it.
Warplanes bombed the northeastern and southwestern suburbs of Damascus in a fresh bid to push rebels further from the capital, and troops attacked insurgent strongholds on the road to Damascus airport.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the raids came amid fierce clashes near the towns of Bait Saham and Aqraba along the airport road, and that shelling killed three civilians in nearby Ziabiyeh.
Battles have raged for weeks outside Damascus where insurgents have set up rear bases.
Analysts say the army is set on taking total control of Damascus and its immediate surroundings to create conditions necessary for future dialogue.
In northern Syria, where insurgents hold huge swathes of territory, authorities announced the temporary closure of Aleppo international airport after rebel attacks in recent days.
The Observatory reported that the closure came after a blast, likely due to rebel shelling, hit a civil airplane as it took off on Saturday.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi said on Monday the government was open to talks aimed at solving the conflict that monitors say has now killed more then 46,000 people.