Fifty people were killed on Saturday in fighting and shelling in the Damascus area, in the central provinces of Homs and Hama, and in Western coastal town of Latakia.
For the last week rebel held areas of Homs have been under intense bombardment and ground attacks. Food is in short supply. Thousands are trapped.
Syrian human rights organisations are calling on the UN to step in and evacuate the civilian population in the contested areas of Homs.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) had been gaining ground across the north and centre of Syria. However the FSA lost a week-long battle in northern town of Haffah last Wednesday when the rebels were forced out after a blistering offensive. The state relied heavily on attack helicopters for the first time.
However, in response to the increase in violence UN observers have suspended their patrols. About 300 observers are in Syria monitoring a so-called peace plan negotiated by UN-Arab League representative Kofi Annan.
In fact the “peace plan” was always going to fail. Even though its six points were generous to the Syrian dictatorship the plan demanded the withdrawal of Syrian state forces from urban centres, the right to protest freely and the release of those detained during the uprising. If such conditions were met by the regime – it would fall. All that is preventing the collapse of Bashar al-Assad’s contemptible, lying government is its relentless brutality against its own people.
The US’s cautious policy on Syria is driven by fear of what might replace Assad’s state. Obama also wants to avoid a new war in the run-up to this year’s US presidential election.
Russia has maintained its support for Assad, giving the Syrian state political protection and selling it weapons.