Syrian troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have reportedly killed 83 people, said the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Among them, the organization said, were 20 civilians, including nine women and three children, killed during fighting in the southern Syrian city of Daraa.
The troops reportedly used heavy weapons in attacking several areas in Homs, and the capital city Damascus. At least two civilians were killed in the attacks there as reconnaissance planes were seen flying over the region, added the group.
In Istanbul, Kurdish activist Abdulbaset Sieda was named on Sunday to lead the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition group to President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The newly elected leader takes over from exiled SNC boss Burhan Ghalioun who was forced to step down in May over factions within the group.
Sieda said al-Assad's administration is on its "last legs," even as Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for an international conference on the crisis, insisting Russia as a permanent UN Security Council member will not sanction the use of external force against its ally.
The escalation of violence is another blow for the peace plan of UN-Arab League envoy head Kofi Annan.
jlw/sb (dpa, AFP)