DAMASCUS, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Syrians entered the new year to the sound of artillery near Damascus and elsewhere, clouding efforts to end the 22-month conflict.
State-run SANA news agency reported that "tens of terrorists" were killed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the Damascus suburb of Daraya and nearby areas.
Daraya is a few miles away from a strategic air base and government headquarters.
Syrian rebels have set up rear bases and formed a crescent around the capital, posing a stiff challenge to Assad, who retains a firm control over central Damascus.
In northern Syria, where insurgents hold huge swathes of territory, authorities announced the closure of Aleppo airport after rebel attacks.
The international airport of Syria's second largest city and commercial capital Aleppo has shut off late Monday after rebel attempts to attack commercial flights, the local al-Khabar TV reported.
The airport is expected to resume its flights within the next 48 hours after the army totally secures the airport's surroundings.
However, the airport officials said the shutdown was due to ongoing "maintenance work."
The armed rebels in Aleppo have recently threatened that they would target commercial flights of the airport, saying they had fired at one plane's tires as a warning. They have been trying to take control over the airport of Aleppo and the main one in Damascus.
The pro-government al-Watan daily said on Monday that the road to the international airport of Damascus is "100 percent" secure.
The international efforts to end the crisis have seen little progress, as the rebels refuse to negotiate unless Assad steps down.
In the last days of 2012, international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi called on countries to push the two sides to talk, saying Syria faces a choice of "hell or the political process."
Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi told the parliament on Monday that the government would "respond to any regional or international initiative that would solve the current crisis through dialogue and peaceful means."
In central Damascus, soldiers manning checkpoints fired celebratory gunfire on New Year's Eve although the streets were largely deserted.
Few passers-by were spotted on streets as most Syrians stayed indoors out of fear of possible bombing or chaotic incidents at midnight.