Fighting rages on across Syria

Clashes and bombardment reported, day after Russia says peace conference unlikely to happen before October.

    Heavy clashes have been reported in different parts of Syria, a day after at least 120 people were killed in battles between government forces and rebels, according to activists.

    Tuesday's fighting was intense in Deir al-Zour, around Damascus, in Homs and Aleppo, according to activists. 

    On Monday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 80 rebels and soldiers were among 120 people killed across the country.

    Most of the deaths occurred in Deir al- Zour in east of the country, and in Latakia, the heartland of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s minority Alawite sect. Rebels and the army have been engaged in intensifying clashes in Latakia for the past few days.

    Military jets hit the villages of Esterba and Doureen in the Latakia countryside, activists said, as well as Aleppo, Homs and other cities across Syria.

    Conference delayed

    As the violence continued, dialogue seemed further away, with Russia saying a proposed international peace conference on Syria would probably not happen until October.

    Russia's deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, said more talks were expected at the end of August on preparing the so-called Geneva 2 conference.

    "It [the peace conference] is unlikely to happen in September because there are different events, including the 'ministerial week' at the UN General Assembly," Gatilov told the Interfax news agency.

    "We are for it happening as soon as possible, but we need to be realistic about circumstances which could effect the forum."

    Russian and US officials agreed last week that the long-delayed conference should take place as soon as possible, but offered no concrete plan to bring the warring sides to the table.

    Washington and Moscow initially wanted to hold the conference by the end of May. But the date keeps slipping, partly because the rebels are split and cannot decide who should represent them.

    Gatilov also said Russia was still keen on including Iran in the talks, a proposal that Washington has not supported.

    The conflict in Syria, which erupted more than two years ago, has left almost 100,000 people killed, according to UN figures.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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