DAMASCUS, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Clashes and violence continues in several Syrian hotspots on Thursday as an international meeting discussing the crisis opening in Rome, the state-run SANA news agency reported.
The report said Thursday that the Syrian army tracked down armed groups in several areas in suburbs of the capital Damascus, causing many casualties among them and devastating their dens and weapons.
It said the army eliminated a "terrorist group" in the western suburb of Darayya and destroyed a car full of weapons and ammunition.
It added that the army killed scores of armed men at al-Nabek city near Damascus and in the resort town of al-Zabadani, stressing that the army troops carried out successful operations at Aliya and Zamalka farms, where several leaders of armed groups had been killed and around 20 explosive devices dismantled.
In the central province of Hama, SANA said the army killed and wounded several gunmen at Zahret al-Madaen town in the province's outskirts and seized big quantities of weapons and ammunition.
In the same area, the engineering units dismantled 16 roadside bombs, according to SANA.
In the central province of Homs, army troops clashed with a terrorist group in the outskirts of al-Quseir, SANA said, reporting many casualties and the destruction of several dens.
Meanwhile, the pro-government al-Watan daily cited local residents in Homs' northern town of Talbiseh as saying that the army troops have recently confiscated stocks of U.S.-made anti- tanks weaponries from warehouses the rebels used to hide their ammunition.
On the opposition side, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that violent clashes were taking place between regime forces and fighters from several rebel battalions at the vicinity of the Saba Bahrat roundabout, the directorate of religious endowments and the justice court in the northern city of Aleppo.
The rebel fighters have been trying to push forward in those areas in Aleppo for days, said the Observatory. It said that the museum of the time-honored Ummayad Mosque in the old quarter of Aleppo was set alight, adding that rebel fighters have taken control over that museum after clashes with regime forces.
In the capital Damascus, clashes and violence renewed in several hotspots, including Daraya, Beit Sahem, Barzeh, Tal, Douma and Qboun, the Observatory reported.
The international meeting called "Friends of Syria" is set to open in Rome on Thursday amid expectations that the U.S. and EU would discuss rendering more support to the opposition, whose members in exile have been calling on the international community to provide the rebels on ground with qualitative weaponries to tilt the balance in the fight against the Syrian army.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Rome from Paris after discussing the situation in Syria with French officials.
The Syrian opposition has initially declared its boycott to the meeting in Rome but backtracked on its position after Kerry said that concrete proposals would be discussed.
While the Western allies have indicated that their aid to the opposition would be "non lethal," a White House spokesman noted recently that the Obama's administration would continue to provide assistance to the Syrian opposition "in the effort to bring about a post-Assad Syria."
BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- Fighting continues to rage across Syria, with heavy shelling and air strikes reported near the cities of Hama and Damascus.
Internet footage appears to show shells exploding in the village of Jenan, near Hama. Another video, also said to be filmed on Wednesday, showed rising smoke in the east Damascus suburb of Saqba, following air strikes by the Syrian army. Full story