Beirut: In the first major violation of a proposed ceasefire, heavy fighting broke out around a Syrian Army base on the beginning of a four-day Muslim holiday on Friday.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, rebels were trying to storm the base, which is less than half a mile from the main north-south highway linking Damascus to Aleppo.
The prospects for a break in the bloody 19-month civil war were already dim.
The ceasefire was proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and endorsed by the Security Council.
If it takes effect, it would be the first pause in the fighting that has taken tens of thousands of lives. Earlier attempts by mediators to bring about a ceasefire failed, though elements on both sides had accepted truce proposals.
The Syrian regime accepted the ceasefire but itself left some significant loopholes, saying it would respond to rebel attacks. Some opposition groups said they would abide by the truce, but several rebel commanders dismissed it as irrelevant.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists, said clashes were also reported in the central province of Homs, in Deir el-Zour in the country`s east. At least four rebels were killed and six soldiers were wounded in overnight fighting, the Observatory said.
The group said three people were also wounded when troops tried to disperse protesters after Friday prayers in the southern province of Deraa, where the uprising began.
Rebels claimed major gains in the key battleground of Aleppo on Thursday, pushing into predominantly Christian and Kurdish neighbourhoods that had previously been held by pro-Assad forces in northern part of the city, the country`s largest.
The short holiday ceasefire was all a divided international community could agree on after the failure of a more ambitious plan for an open-ended truce and political transition talks by Brahimi`s predecessor, former UN chief Kofi Annan, in April.
The truce appeared shaky from the outset, since neither side has shown an interest in laying down arms, pushing instead for military gains.
Also, it wasn`t clear when exactly the ceasefire was supposed to begin, and there were no arrangements for monitoring compliance.
(With Agency inputs)