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While Annan’s plan calls for eventual negotiations between the government and the opposition over Syria’s political future, anti-regime activists say huge numbers of protesters would probably flood the streets and quickly topple Assad if he were forced to halt his yearlong crackdown.

Makdessi, the Syrian official, suggested that a truce without guarantees would give rebels the upper hand. He said Syria will not allow a repeat of what happened during the Arab League’s observer mission in Syria in January, when Assad pulled back his forces, only to see rebels flood the vacated areas.

The Syrian foreign minister is expected in Moscow on Monday, but it is not clear whether Russia will step in to try to salvage the Annan plan it had supported enthusiastically.

Despite growing criticism of Assad, Russia has consistently shielded him from international condemnation.

Since the Syrian uprising erupted in March 2011, more than 9,000 people have been killed, the U.N. says.

On Sunday, Syrian forces pounded towns in the center and north of the country.

Activists said rebel fighters shot down a Syrian army helicopter with a heavy machine gun in northwestern Idlib province. The report came from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Idlib activist Fadi al-Yassin, both citing multiple witnesses. Al-Yassin said witnesses saw the helicopter crash to the ground, and that fighters were trying to make their way to the area.

Syria restricts access of foreign journalists, and activists’ reports cannot be confirmed independently. There was no official comment.

Some of the heaviest fighting of the day was in Homs, where government troops attacked several rebel-held neighborhoods, said Badrakhan, the local activist.

In the Khaldiyeh neighborhood, 40 bodies were piled in a room in a makeshift hospital because the constant shelling has prevented burials, he said, adding that activists are aiming fans at the corpses so they won’t decompose quickly.

“We might have to bury them in public gardens,” he said.

Near the capital of Damascus, government troops raided the suburbs of Darya, Douma and Beit Jin.

The grassroots Local Coordination Committees put the day’s death toll on the opposition side at 45, including six children. It said nine people were killed in Homs and 13 in Hama province, among them seven members of one family. The Observatory reported at least 21 civilians killed in fighting and shelling by government forces, along with seven rebel fighters and 12 soldiers.

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Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Albert Aji in Damascus contributed to this article.