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Evidence of bloody battle in Damascus, as Kofi Annan calls for peace

AP

Syrians walk through blood and debris in a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, after a raid by Syrian troops killed several rebels and civilians on April 5. Syrian troops launched a fierce assault Thursday, days ahead of a deadline for a U.N.-brokered cease-fire, with activists describing it as one of the most violent attacks around the capital since the year-old uprising began.

AP

Syrian youth stand in a building damaged by tank shells in a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, after a raid by Syrian troops killed several rebels and civilians on April 5. Syrian troops launched a fierce assault Thursday, days ahead of a deadline for a U.N.-brokered cease-fire, with activists describing it as one of the most violent attacks around the capital since the year-old uprising began.

Syria’s year-long conflict must end at 6:00 a.m. local time on April 12, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said Thursday, amid reports violence in the country had worsened despite a promise by the regime to withdraw its troops from cities.

Syria has told the U.N. it has begun withdrawals, but there were still reports of violence in the country – including attempts by the army to prevent civilians from escaping gunfire. In Damascus, fresh blood was visible on the streets.

A man calling himself Abu Mustafa, speaking from Zabadani near the Lebanon border, told Reuters: "They are complete liars, there is no army withdrawal, they are still in the middle of the city. They fired on the city this morning, like they do every day,"

However, he did acknowledge a pullback. "The army withdrew 15 tanks yesterday, but the rest are all around the checkpoints as usual," he said.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told msnbc.com in an email on Thursday afternoon that at least 33 people, including 14 soldiers, were killed in the past 24 hours.

Read the full story.

-- msnbc.com's Alastair Jamieson and news services

AP

Sunlight peeks through shrapnel holes in a building destroyed by tank shelling in a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, after a raid by Syrian troops killed several rebels and civilians on April 5. Syrian troops launched a fierce assault Thursday, days ahead of a deadline for a U.N.-brokered cease-fire, with activists describing it as one of the most violent attacks around the capital since the year-old uprising began.

AP

Syrians gather near a crater from a tank shell in a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, after a raid by Syrian troops killed several rebels and civilians on April 5. Syrian troops launched a fierce assault Thursday, days ahead of a deadline for a U.N.-brokered cease-fire, with activists describing it as one of the most violent attacks around the capital since the year-old uprising began.