World Bulletin/News Desk
Syria's army fired mortar bombs at major cities on Saturday killing 16 people, activists said, as world powers gathered in Geneva to try to resolve the conflict.
Live stream video footage posted by opposition activists in the eastern desert city of Deir al-Zor showed smoke rising from apartment blocks as continuous explosions rang out.
Activists also reported shelling in Homs, Idlib and the outskirts of Damascus.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that government shelling and heavy clashes between the army and members of the rebel Free Syrian Army in opposition strongholds have killed 16 people so far on Saturday.
Syrian government forces pushed their way into Douma on Saturday after weeks of siege and shelling and fleeing residents spoke of corpses in the streets of the town near Damascus.
The residents said scores of people were fleeing the town as government forces swept the streets in search of rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
They reported many bodies buried under the rubble of houses.
It was not possible to immediately verify the reports.
International talks on a way to resolve the increasingly bloody conflict in Syria opened in Geneva with foreign powers in dispute over the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.
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"We consider such threats against the Syrian leadership to be unacceptable," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
The White House said the preparations were similar to those undertaken by the Assad regime ahead of an apparent chemical attack on a rebel-held town in April.
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