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A boy stands among Syrian rebels atop a tank after they defeated government troops at Salqin city near Idlib province on Monday. Abu Baker Al-Shemali / Reuters
Clashes erupted between Syrian rebels and troops backed by Palestinian fighters near Damascus on Tuesday as the United Nations-Arab League peace envoy was due in China in a bid to revive struggling efforts to halt the violence.
The first day after the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday saw a bid for a cease-fire collapse amid renewed clashes and more than 500 people had died in fighting over its four days, AFP reported.
Tuesday's clashes near Damascus spread into the Yarmuk Palestinian camp, home to 148,500 people, after breaking out in a neighboring district, activists and a watchdog said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, but the Syrian Revolution General Council, a network of activists on the ground, said fighting was heavy between rebel Free Syrian Army and Palestinian forces.
The violence came as world powers looked to pick up the pieces of a failed effort for a Muslim holiday cease-fire, with envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in Moscow and due in China on Tuesday as he prepares to present new ideas to the UN Security Council.
"I have said and it bears repeating again and again that the Syrian crisis is very very dangerous, the situation is bad and getting worse," Brahimi said after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Diplomats say Brahimi will go to the UN Security Council in November with new proposals after visiting Russia and China. On Monday, the final day of the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday, explosions shook the capital as warplanes launched their heaviest air raids yet and two car bombs exploded.
The air raid blasts, heard coming from several outlying districts, rattled windows in the city center and were among the most intense in Damascus since the beginning of Syria's 19-month conflict, an AFP correspondent said.
They were followed by two car bombings in and around the city. The first struck the predominantly Christian and Druze area of Jaramana, just outside Damascus killing 11 people, according to state news agency SANA. The second hit several hours later in the southern Al-Hajar Al-Aswad district, which has seen heavy fighting, causing an unknown number of casualties, state television reported.
The army's general command on Monday in a statement blamed "terrorists" for violating the failed Eid truce.
"On the fourth and last day of the declared truce, armed terrorist groups continued to launch attacks on unarmed citizens, and targeted army and security checkpoints," it said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he was "deeply disappointed" by the collapse of the truce and urged all sides "to live up to their obligations and promote a cease-fire".
(China Daily 10/31/2012 page11)