Syrian forces pressed a crackdown on rebel bastions on Thursday despite a truce pledge, with more than 40 people reported killed, as Russia said the opposition would never defeat President Bashar al-Assad's army even if "armed to the teeth."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops stormed and shelled several towns or villages, following fierce assaults and clashes the previous day that killed at least 80 people.
"From the Turkish border in the northeast to Daraa in the south, military operations are ongoing," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based group, told AFP.
"Tanks are still shelling or storming towns and villages before going back to their bases," he added. "That does not mean they are withdrawing."
The assaults were taking place despite Assad's pledge to implement by April 10 a six-point peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
The Observatory has charged that the army was torching and looting rebel houses across the country in a campaign that could amount to crimes against humanity.