The Syrian army continued its attacks on rebel positions Sunday in the northern city of Aleppo with heavy shelling and helicopter gunships.
The country's biggest city has become a key battleground in the nearly year and a half uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, as government forces reportedly mass ahead of what is expected to be a strong offensive against the opposition.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than two dozen people were killed in clashes across the country Saturday.
Iranian media said Sunday Tehran has asked Turkey and Qatar to help secure the release of 48 Iranian national kidnapped Saturday in Damascus. Iran has described the victims as religious pilgrims. However, al-Arabiya television says the Syrian rebels have described them as elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Iran backs the Syrian government, while Turkey and Qatar support the Syrian opposition.
Clinton to Turkey
The U.S. State Department announced Sunday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Turkey Saturday to discuss the deteriorating situation in neighboring Syria.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Malawi, Clinton's latest stop on her African tour, that the U.S. top diplomat is going to Istanbul "for bilateral consultations with the Turkish government on Syria, as well as to cover other timely issues."
The United Nations General Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Security Council for its failure to act and condemned the Syrian regime for using heavy weapons.
UN envoyThe U.N. special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, resigned Thursday in frustration with the world body's failure to act decisively to prevent the ongoing bloodshed in Syria. Annan said he could not be the only one working for peace while the fighting between Syrian forces and the rebels intensified.
Kofi Annan's Six-Point Peace Plan
- A Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
- A U.N. supervised end to armed violence by all parties in Syria.
- Timely humanitarian assistance in all areas affected by fighting.
- Increasing the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained people.
- Ensuring freedom of movement for journalists.
- Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.
Russia and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions that would have held President Assad responsible for his failure to abide by Annan's peace plan and threatened him with sanctions.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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