Dozens of people were killed in Syria over the weekend, including reports of at least 23 Syrian soldiers, as the army and rebels continue to spar despite both saying they'll adhere to a United Nations-backed cease fire.
In Rastan, near the key city of Homs, at least 30 people were killed in one particularly violent clash. According to the United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, speaking with the BBC, three troops carriers were destroyed in the fighting, killing the Syrian soldiers. The clash, which if born out, would be the deadliest for Syrian forces since the clashes began in early 2011.
The Syrian Observatory told the BBC that Rastan was under artillery bombardment by Syrian forces, an effort to put down the protests that have continued unabated since the Arab Spring began last year.
"The city, currently an opposition stronghold, has been fiercely contested during the Syrian uprising and control of the town has changed several times," the BBC wrote. "Separately, the army has raided a Sunni village north of Hama, killing five people, the Observatory said."
All signs are that neither the Syrian government nor the rebels intend to abide by the U.N. cease fire, which has seen nearly 200 peacekeepers deployed to the country in an effort to stop the violence. So far, though, they have been ineffective.
According to the United Nations, some 9,000 people have died in Syria's ongoing civil war.
Hopes for a peaceful end to the violence are fading with each passing day. The Arab League invited opposition officials to Cairo for negotiations to end the violence, but political bickering and in-fighting among the opposition leaders has made that challenging, Reuters reported.
"The SNC will not be going to the meeting in Cairo because it (the Arab League) has not invited the group as an official body but as individual members," Ahmed Ramadan said to Reuters.
Western leaders are hoping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will step down, but he's being supported by allies in Russia. According to Reuters, western officials have no interest in a Libya-style military intervention, and Russia has warned against arming the rebels.
Meanwhile, Syria continues its violent crackdown on rebel forces, including extensive use of artillery and rocket fire aimed at rebel strongholds, like Rastan.