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Syria's regime unleashed tanks and warplanes against rebels as battles raged yesterday, after France recognised the newly united political opposition and raised the prospect of arming its fighters.
Tanks shelled two refugee camps in southern Damascus, where fighting has intensified since the army put down a rebel assault in the southern belt of the capital city where anti-regime sentiment runs strong, a watchdog said.
Fighter jets bombed Maaret al-Numan, a northwestern town rebels captured last month in a major blow to the regime's ability to reinforce troops under attack in second city Aleppo, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev criticised countries siding with the opposition and insisted Moscow was staying neutral.
"We don't support anybody in this conflict, neither President Assad nor the rebels... but unfortunately, the point of view of some states is more one-sided," Medvedev told Finnish broadsheet Helsingin Sanomat.
The United States and France said on Tuesday that the coalition was "a legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, but stopped short of recognising it as the sole representative.
Britain said it wants to see more evidence the grouping has strong support inside Syria before formally recognising it.
The Observatory -- which relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics -- said nationwide violence killed 189 people on Tuesday, including 90 civilians, 50 rebels and 49 soldiers.