Heavy fighting, mounting casualties spell end of cease-fire in Syria

About 200 civilians have been killed in the past week, nearly half of them around Aleppo

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A military buildup in northern Syria, coupled with heavy fighting and mounting civilian casualties, spells the end of a cease-fire that for two months brought some relief to a war-weary country. The renewed violence is ushering in what could be an even more ruinous chapter in the 5-year-old conflict.

About 200 civilians have been killed in the past week, nearly half of them around Aleppo. There has even been shelling in Damascus, along with a car bomb - both rarities for the capital.

With peace talks in Geneva completely deadlocked, Syrians are regarding the escalating bloodshed with dread, fearing a return to full war and slow destruction.

“There are regime attempts to advance and preparations by (rebel) forces to advance in the other direction. But the truth is that both sides have no capacity to advance,” said activist Ahmad al-Ahmad, who lives in opposition-held areas outside Hama. “It is attrition, except for the planes, which can target civilians.”

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