Dozens killed in Syrian attack
Near the Old City in Damascus, a car bomb killed one person and blew the legs off another man, according to opposition activist Samir al-Shami. He said it was unclear if the car, a white Toyota, was rigged by Assad loyalists or rebels.
In northern Idlib province, a government jet dropped barrel bombs - cylinders packed with explosives and petrol - at the Abu Hilal olive oil press, 2km west of Idlib city, activist Tareq Abdelhaq said.
At least five people were killed and five wounded in the attack, according to the Observatory. Mr Abdelhaq placed the number much higher, citing locals saying that at least 20 were killed and 50 wounded.
Activists said the victims were civilians waiting to press their olives for oil, but they said opposition fighters were in the area. It was unclear if there were any rebel targets nearby.
Combat also took place in the Baba Amr district of Homs city, an area that was overrun by government troops in February, as well as in Aleppo, Deir al-Zor, Deraa, Idlib province and Hama province, the Observatory said.
Rebels have captured at least five army and air force installations in the past 10 days, putting pressure on Dr Assad's forces in Aleppo and Idlib and the eastern oil region of Deir al-Zor.
The opposition are calling for international military aid, particularly against air attacks, but Western powers who support the uprising are wary of radical Islamist units among the rebels. However, some anti-aircraft equipment has been seized from captured army bases.
The government also launched air strikes on Deir al-Zor city and on the strategic town of Maraat al-Numan in Idlib province on Tuesday.
The rebel takeover of Maarat al-Numan last month effectively cut the main north-south highway, a route for Assad to move troops from the Damascus to Aleppo, Syria's largest city where rebels have taken a foothold.
Most foreign powers have condemned Assad, and Britain, France and Gulf countries have recognised an umbrella opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, as the sole representative of the Syrian people.
But Assad has been able to rely on his allies, especially regional powerhouse Iran, which is believed to be bankrolling him and supplying military support despite US and European sanctions. Russia, its main arms supplier, says it has only sent weapons already agreed to in previous deals.
Nonprofit news website ProPublica reported yesterday that Russia sent 240 tonnes of bank notes to Damascus this summer. US and European sanctions include a ban on minting Syrian banknotes.