On Sunday, state media said rebels detonated a car bomb near a major hotel in the capital, wounding several people. They also said the rebels — the government refers to them as terrorists — were behind the assassination of a leading member of the ruling Baath party in northeast Raqqa province.
The powerful car bomb shook the Dama Rose hotel and shattered much of its glass, according to an AP reporter at the scene. The hotel has been used in the past by U.N. observers visiting Syria, including the Damascus representative of the new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.
State-run SANA news agency said the bomb weighted around 50 kilograms (110 pounds) and went off about 500 meters (yards) from the army chief of staff's building.
The pro-government Ikhbariyeh TV said the explosives were planted under a car, parked in an outdoor lot near the country's main labor union building. At least 12 people, all union members, were wounded by shattered glass, the organization's chief, Mohammad Azouz, told the AP.
In Raqqa province, gunmen broke into the home of Baath party official Ismail al-Hamadeh at dawn and sprayed him with bullets as he slept, according to a SANA report.
Elsewhere in Syria, activists said the army clashed with rebels in the northern cities of Idlib and Aleppo, as well as in Damascus and the southern border town of Daraa, where the uprising began.
In the Damascus suburbs of Harasta and al-Hajira, the army and opposition fighters exchanged heavy fire, killing a handful of rebels, SANA said. The fiercest fighting took place in Harem on the edge of Idlib, where 30 civilians were killed allegedly in clashes between rebels and the army, the agency said.
The Observatory said the Syrian army launched air strikes on rebel hideouts in Idlib's suburbs, mainly the strategic city of Maaret al-Numan, which rebels captured three weeks ago. Their presence in the city, along the main highway between Damascus and Aleppo, has disrupted the military's main supply route to the northern front.
Associated Press writers Bassam Mroue in Beirut, Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Adam Schreck in Baghdad contributed to this report.