The international community is demanding UN access to the site of an alleged chemical attack in Syria.
An Iranian delegate to Syrian peace talks in Kazakhstan has blamed rebels for the delay in reaching a deal. At the same time, Syrian President Assad gave his support to US President Trump's attempted travel ban.
The Syrian government offensive aims to push rebels out of the Damascus area and firm up control around the capital. Observers have called it the biggest attack in Damascus in years.
The UN-brokered Syria peace talks are set to resume in Geneva on Thursday. But with a fragmented opposition, Staffan de Mistura questioned how much progress could be made in the initial talks.
An alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters has seized a dozen villages in eastern Syria. The move is part of a drive to encircle the so-called 'Islamic State' (IS) group's stronghold of Raqqa ahead of new peace talks.
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