Syria troops regain key Damascus suburb

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Moscow had refused to back a provision that would call for Assad to step aside, insisting that outsiders cannot order a political solution for Syria.

Annan said following talks that “it is for the people of Syria to come to a political agreement.”

Syrian opposition groups also planned to meet Monday in Cairo to try to agree on a common vision to deal with the next stage in the conflict, Arab League deputy chief Ahmed ben Heli told reporters.

He said the foreign ministers from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia also were invited, as were Annan and envoys from Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey and Tunisia.

Previous attempts in the past weeks to hold a similar meeting at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo failed because of differences between opposition groups.

The death toll is rising daily as the conflict becomes increasingly militarized. Fighting also has left several rebel strongholds facing dire conditions.

Douma’s residents suffer from daily shelling as well as shortages of food, electricity and running water, according to the Observatory. It also cited a shortage of cooking gas that has prevented people from cooking food since the latest campaign began on June 21.

The Observatory said about 100 families, mostly women and children, remain in Douma as men had to flee because of waves of arrests. Dozens of wounded people also are holed up in shelters and need urgent treatment after troops took over the main hospital in the area and damaged it, the Observatory said.

“Many of the wounded have died because of bad medical conditions,” the Observatory said.

In other violence Saturday, a car bomb exploded in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest, damaging a government building but causing no casualties since the building was closed for the weekend, according to SANA.

Activists also reported shelling by government troops and clashes between rebels and government forces in the central provinces of Hama and Homs, the eastern region of Deir el-Zour as well as Idlib and Aleppo to the north. Scores were reported killed in violence Saturday.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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