Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the United States early Monday asked Turkey's foreign minister to press Syria to "return its military to the barracks," as the Syrian tanks pounded the city of Deir Al Zor for a second day.
Mrs. Clinton spoke by telephone with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is scheduled to visit Syria on Tuesday, about Syria amid rising international calls on Damascus to stop a military crackdown on protests.
"Secretary Clinton discussed the US position that Syria must immediately return its military to barracks and release all prisoners of concern," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
"She asked the foreign minister to reinforce these messages with the Syrian government. She also discussed American support for a transition to democracy in Syria," he said.
"Storming Deir Al Zor for second day"
Syrian tanks, meanwhile, pounded the city of Deir Al Zor in the country's Sunni tribal heartland for a second day on Monday.
Syrian tanks and troops poured into the eastern Sunni city of Deir Al Zor in a further escalation of the five-month uprising against President Assad's rule.
"Armored vehicles are shelling the Al Hawiqa district heavily with their 76mm guns. Private hospitals are closed and people are afraid to send the wounded to state facilities because they are infested with secret police," Mohammed, a resident, told Reuters by phone.
He said at least 65 people had been killed since tanks and armored vehicles stormed the provincial capital, 400 km (250 miles) northeast of Damascus, on Sunday, crushing makeshift barricades and opening fire.
The assault on the city, in an oil-producing province bordering Iraq, came a week after tanks stormed Hama, where residents of the city say scores have been killed in an ongoing siege to crush the uprising against minority Alawite rule.
Syrian authorities denied that any Deir al-Zor assault had taken place. The official state news agency said "not a single tank has entered Deir al-Zor" and reports of tanks in the city were "the work of provocateur satellite channels".
Syria has barred most journalists, making it hard to confirm events reported by either side in the conflict.
The Syrian Revolution Coordinating Union said 50 people had been killed in Deir al-Zor on Sunday and at least 13 had been killed in a separate, tank-led assault on villages in the central Houla Plain, near the city of Homs.
"The numbers of casualties are escalating by the hour," activist Suhair al-Atassi, a member of the Coordinating Union, said by phone from Damascus on Sunday.
Another activist said: "The Deir al-Zor assault could be the turning point where the repression will backfire and people will start taking up arms against the regime. Assad cannot repress a whole nation like this, and expect people to watch as thousands get killed or disappear."
Syrian authorities say they have faced armed attacks since the protests first erupted in March, blaming armed saboteurs for most of the civilian deaths and accusing them of killing 500 security personnel.
State television broadcast footage on Sunday of mutilated bodies floating in the Orontes river in Hama, saying 17 police had been ambushed and killed in the city.
Human rights groups have reported some cases of gunmen attacking security forces, but say Assad's forces have killed at least 1,600 civilians taking part in overwhelmingly peaceful protests. The United States says the figure exceeds 2,000.
In Deir al-Zor, authorities allowed local tribes to arm as a counterweight to a Kurdish population further northeast.
But relations between Assad's government and the province deteriorated after years of water shortages, corruption and mismanagement of resources devastated agriculture and led to the internal displacement of up to a million people.
Assad, who has repeatedly described the uprising as a foreign conspiracy to divide Syria, defended the army's campaign. He was quoted by the official national news agency on Sunday as saying his forces were fulfilling a national duty by "dealing with outlaws and convicts ... who seal off cities and terrorise the population".
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who cultivated close ties with Assad but has sharply criticised the crackdown, said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu would visit Syria on Tuesday.
"Our message will be decisively delivered," he said, drawing a rebuke from an Assad adviser, who described the Turkish statement as unbalanced.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told Assad by phone on Saturday he was alarmed by the escalating violence and demanded he rein in the army. He repeated his appeal on Monday during a visit to Japan.
Several ports are in rebel hands and fighting has made travelling by road perilous.
Turkey's relations with Tehran have already been strained by stark differences over Syria. Ankara upped the ante last week, saying it backs the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen against Houthi militants supported by Iran.
According to the source,Pro-Houthi brigade has disintegrated Ad Dali, brigade commander Abdullah Dabaan has fled.
Abu Mohamad al-Golani, leader of the Nusra front said residents of the northwestern city of Idlib would be treated well by his fighters and other Islamic factions that captured it on Saturday.
"They pushed from the Hajar Aswad area," one witness said, adding that the violence was ongoing. Yarmouk has been caught between government forces and Syrian insurgent groups including al Qaeda's Nusra Front.
"The borders have been closed for traffic temporarily.. It's a precautionary move.. due to the violent events on the other side," the interior ministry said.
"Now is the time for the international community to insist on a better deal," he said in a televised statement in English.
The air strike hit Zintan, whose forces have sided with Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni's government against the rival administration set up by forces who took over Tripoli in the summer during factional fighting in Libya.
With talks to cinch a deal on the horizon according to Iran, France says there is not enough to go ahead for a deal just yet
Abdollahian and Ban spoke on the sidelines of an international conference in Kuwait aimed at addressing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, IRNA reported.
United Nations experts reported to the U.N. Security Council, thousands of people from some 100 countries in Syria and Iraq, there were also 6,500 in Afghanistan and hundreds more in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and Somalia.
The operation by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim states is aimed at stopping the Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh winning control of the country and at reinstating Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement, nuclear talks to merit staying until Wednesday.
The negotiators ended talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne in the early hours of Wednesday and said they would reconvene later in the day, with Iran and Russia expressing optimism that an initial agreement was within reach.
The Mazraq camp for displaced people near Haradh was struck on Monday, humanitarian workers said. Some 200 people were wounded, dozens of them seriously, the International Organization for Migration said.
Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Tuesday pledged $500 million in humanitarian aid to help ease the crisis in Syria.