BEIRUT Syrian activists say a regime attack on Damascus' rebellious suburbs has killed at least 45 people, including eight children.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that 24 of the dead, including all eight children, were killed by government air strikes and artillery in eastern Ghouta district on Sunday.
The rest of the casualties were in a host of other towns and villages outside the capital.
There were reports of heavy air strikes also in the southern suburb of Moadamiyeh al-Sham. Videos uploaded by opposition activists to YouTube showed grisly scenes of bodies being pulled from underneath large chunks of concrete amid the rubble of destroyed buildings.
The Observatory said that Sunday's bombardment was among the heaviest of Syria's during 22-month-old conflict.
It said that ten rebels were also killed in clashes with troops in Damascus' suburbs.
Syrian fighter jets also carried out fresh air strikes Monday on the strategic suburb of Daraya, from which opposition fighters have tried to storm Damascus, the seat of Assad's power.
Daraya is close to a number of strategic facilities. The suburb is flanked by the key districts of Mazzeh, home to a military air base, and Kfar Sousseh, where the government headquarters, the General Security intelligence agency head office and the Interior Ministry are located. Last week, the government said it has regained control over more than half of the suburb.
The regime's current push in Damascus comes a week after Assad dismissed international calls to relinquish power and vowed to continue fighting rebels, whom he characterized as Islamic extremists out to destroy Syria.
The speech was condemned by the U.S. and its Western and Gulf Arab allies, while Assad's backers in Russia and Iran said his proposal should be considered.
Syria's opposition rejected the proposal.
Those fighting to topple the regime, including rebels on the ground, have repeatedly said they will accept nothing less than the president's departure, dismissing any kind of settlement that leaves him in the picture.
Almost no corner of Syria is now immune to the effects of the raging civil war. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in search of the relative safety of refugee camps just across the border in neighboring countries.
CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward visited one of those camps in southern Turkey over the weekend, and reports that conditions, while perhaps an improvement upon random air strikes, are grim. Harsh winter weather and a desperate need for more shelter has led to at least one instance of rioting by Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Even harder-hit, says Ward, are the refugees who have not yet been able to make it across the border. Tens of thousands are stuck in make-shift camps -- with few internationally-provided supplies and no police to try and ensure safety - along the Syrian side of the border with Turkey.
Ward says at one such camp, there's no power, no heat and very limited facilities. As many as 12,000 people are sharing just 80 toilets.