Beirut: More than 200 people, mostly civilians, were killed on Wednesday in violence across Syria, including 38 in Damascus where armed rebels are pressing an all-out offensive, a monitoring group said.

At least 214 people -- 124 civilians, 62 soldiers and 28 rebels died in one of the bloodiest days of a 16-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday, revising an earlier toll.

The figure did not include the three members of Assad's inner circle who died in Wednesday's bomb attack on security headquarters in the heart of the capital.

Among victims in Damascus were residents killed in shelling by regime forces of the Qaboon, Kfar Sousa and Al-Kaddam neighbourhoods, as well people felled by sniper fire and in clashes between rebels and regular soldiers in the Rokn Eddin and Al-Hajar Al-Aswad neighbourhoods, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Violence has engulfed Damascus since the rebel Free Syrian Army on Monday announced the launch of Operation Damascus Volcano "in response to massacres and barbaric crimes" committed by Assad's regime.

The FSA claimed responsibility for Wednesday's security headquarters bombing which killed Defence Minister General Daoud Rajha, Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and General Hassan Turkmani, head of the regime's crisis cell on the uprising, state media said.

The Observatory's toll reports cannot be independently verified. The watchdog has estimated more than 17,000 people have been killed in violence since the revolt broke out in March 2011.


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