Syrian forces fought on Friday to take back border posts seized by rebels and announced they had cleared fighters from a central part of the capital, aiming to regain the initiative after coordinated attacks by an emboldened opposition.
But activists said fighting in the Midan district in central Damascus was continuing and residents reported a lack of government checkpoints in the heart of the city and fewer guards in front of the Interior Ministry after days of clashes.
At least three people were killed when Syrian army helicopters fired rockets at the southeastern Damascus neighborhood of Saida Zeinab, opposition activists said.
Government forces struck the rebel-held Bab al-Hawa border post on the frontier with Turkey overnight and shelled the city of Abu Kamal near the main checkpoint on the border with Iraq which was seized by rebels on Thursday, activists said.
Syrian rebels were still in control of the main Abu Kamal border post on the Euphrates River highway, other border posts further north, near the Iraqi city of Mosul, appeared to still be under Syrian government army control, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Al-Khafaji told Reuters.
SECURITY MEN DEAD IN STREETS
In Damascus, a witness in the Central Old Quarter district of Qanawat said the huge headquarters of the Damascus Province Police was black with smoke."Three patrol cars came to the site and were hit by roadside bombs," activist Abu Rateb said by telephone. "I saw three bodies in one car.
Syrian television showed the bodies of about 20 men in T-shirts and jeans with weapons lying at their sides, sprawled across a road in the capital's Qaboun district. Officials in neighboring Lebanon said refugees were pouring across the frontier: a security source said 20,000 Syrians had crossed on Thursday.
Diplomacy has been largely ineffective throughout the crisis, with Western countries condemning Assad but showing no stomach for the sort of robust intervention that saw NATO bombers help blast Libya's Muammar Gaddafi from power last year.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the Security Council had "failed utterly", and Washington would look elsewhere for ways "to bring pressure to bear on the Assad regime and to deliver assistance to those in need".
To replace the vetoed text, Britain proposed a four-paragraph resolution that would at least extend the expiring mandate of the monitors for 30 days. Russia's ambassador said he would ask Moscow to consider it.