Fresh bombings and air strikes shook Syria on Tuesday and killed at least eight people so far, a day after nearly 250 people died in the country's worst violence where rebels have launched one of their deadliest attacks.As the opposition met in Qatar under pressure to form a truly representative government-in-exile, the Syrian regime was reeling from a wave of rebel car bombs and attacks that killed nearly 100 soldiers and pro-government fighters on Monday.
Another car bomb struck early Tuesday, causing injuries and significant damage in the city of Mudamiya near the capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Fighting and military shelling also hit the area, said the UK-based Observatory, which relies on a countrywide network of activists and medics in civilian and military hospitals.
The regime also renewed a campaign of air strikes pounding rebel positions, with fighter jets dropping at least two bombs in the heart of the town of Douma, 13 kilometres (eight miles) northeast of the capital, the Observatory said.
Air raids also hit the northern town of Al-Bab near the Turkish border and in the central Homs province, it said.
The rebels have scored significant gains in recent weeks and hold swathes of territory in the north, but have come under intense bombardment from the air as President Bashar al-Assad's regime seeks to reverse its losses.
The Observatory said the army was shelling areas in the western Latakia region, in Homs and in Quneitra, near the Golan Heights, where the Israeli army said Monday that gunfire from the Syrian side had hit an Israeli military vehicle.
The Observatory said 247 people were killed on Monday, including 93 soldiers and pro-regime fighters, in the deadliest day in Syria since an attempt to impose a ceasefire for the October 26-29 Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday collapsed.
In one of the most devastating attacks on Assad's forces since the start of the Syrian uprising, a rebel car bomb killed 50 pro-regime fighters at a military post in the central province of Hama on Monday.
Fighting was raging Tuesday in northern commercial hub Aleppo and around Damascus, where residents said heavy explosions could be frequently heard while warplanes and helicopters flew over the city.
A Syrian security source told AFP that regime forces had over the past two days repelled a major rebel attack on the capital.
"During the last 48 hours rebels carried out a massive offensive to move into Damascus, which failed.... They were repelled," the source said, adding that about 4,000 opposition fighters had been involved on different fronts.
Pro-government daily al-Watan also reported "heavy clashes between the Syrian army and armed bands" in Damascus over the previous 48 hours.
"More than 120 terrorists were killed by the Syrian army, without significant losses registered within its ranks," the newspaper wrote, citing security sources.
Syrian state television said Tuesday that Mohammad al-Laham, brother of parliament speaker Jihad al-Laham, was "assassinated by terrorists" in Damascus, but provided no other details.
Fighting broke out yesterday in Aleppo in the Zahraa district and on the airport road to the southeast, the Observatory and residents said.
One resident of a district near Zahraa said Monday's fighting in the area was the heaviest in recent days.
Members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, meanwhile, said on Monday that its main warehouse in Aleppo had burned down amid recent fighting, with the loss of crucial supplies including medicine, food and winter relief items like blankets.
On the political side, Syria's main opposition bloc agreed on Monday to broaden its structure to accommodate 13 other groups, a spokesman said.
The decision by the SNC came on the second day of a four-day meeting of opposition groups in the Qatari capital, Doha, aimed at forging a more united front against Assad's regime.
"Participants have agreed a restructuring plan and to reduce the number of [current] members of the general secretariat to accommodate 200 new members representing 13 political groups and independents," said SNC spokesman Ahmad Kamel.
Kamel said the existing membership would be reduced from 313 to 220 to pave the way for the additional 200 members. The general secretariat will convene in its revamped form on Tuesday, he added.
The meeting is also expected to discuss an initiative by leading dissident Riad Seif, which appeared to enjoy US support but has encountered reservations from some SNC members, to unite all Syrian groups opposed to Assad.
"We will form a political leadership that will in turn form a government of technocrats," Seif said on Sunday, insisting his proposal was "not to replace the SNC which should be an important component."
The initiative will top the agenda of a broader meeting on Thursday called by host Qatar and the Arab League.
Meanwhile, the SNC member George Sabra said Monday that the SNC has been exposed to "massive pressure" to accept dialogue with Assad's regime, but most of the SNC members refused to do. Sabra, however, didn't reveal which countries have been exerting this pressure.
According to the reports, which emerged after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the SNC was not a representative body, long-time dissident Seif is touted as the potential head of a new government-in-exile dubbed the Syrian National Initiative.