DAMASCUS - The 20-month-old violence in Syria sees no end yet despite continuous international mediation efforts, as blasts and shootings again devastated the capital of the conflict-torn country. Twin blasts struck a district of Damascus earlier on Friday, injuring 16 people. The explosions were followed by intense shooting from security forces.
At the same time, Syrian warplanes were seen hovering over the capital, as jet fighters have reportedly broken the sound barrier twice.
Blasts became daily occurrences in the capital as armed rebels intensified their attacks in the hope of wobbling the government's tight grip on Damascus.
Also on Friday, world powers started a new round of debate over the Syria issue.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov accused that the Western attempts to press new Syrian leaders from outside contradicted the Geneva agreement reached by all world powers. According to the Geneva communiqué, a transitional governing body must be formed on the basis of mutual agreement between the government and the opposition, he said.
Meanwhile, Syria's main anti-government group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), accused the United States of undermining the county's revolution and trying to control Syria's leadership structure.
However, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Friday denied all the claims, saying that this is not a matter of the U.S. dictating. She also insisted that Washington's stance was simply trying to ensure that more voices were heard.
The arguments came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday called for a reshuffle of Syria's opposition leadership, saying that the foreign-based SNC could no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition.
Criticism mounted this week after a video appeared on-line Thursday showing that Western-backed armed rebels executing as many as 20 Syrian soldiers in the northern province of Idlib, which the United Nations said appeared to be a war crime.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the mass killing of the government soldiers occurred after the rebels had taken over a checkpoint in an area west to the town of Saraqeb in Idlib.
The Observatory placed the death toll of Thursday's violence at 157, including 50 civilians and 72 regular forces. (Xinhua)