Beirut: Syria says the year-old revolt to topple President Bashar al-Assad is over, but the army again shelled opposition areas on Saturday and rebels said they would not cease fire until tanks, artillery and heavy weapons are withdrawn.

Washington and Gulf Arab states urged peace envoy Kofi Annan to set a timeline for "next steps" if there is no ceasefire, and Saudi Arabia repeated a call for rebels to be armed.

Annan has said neither measure would be helpful. The former U.N. chief's mission has brought no respite in the killings.

Syria also said it would keep its forces in cities to "maintain security" until it is safe to withdraw in line with the peace deal, which Assad has said he accepts.

Annan's plan says the army must stop violence immediately and be the first to withdraw forces.

"We cannot accept the presence of tanks and troops in armored vehicles among the people," a spokesman for Free Syrian Army commanders inside Syria said.

"We don't have a problem with the ceasefire. As soon as they remove their armored vehicles, the Free Syrian Army will not fire a single shot," Lieutenant Colonel Qassim Saad al-Din told Reuters by telephone from Homs.

A rebel officer in Damascus said separately: "When Assad's gangs stop the shelling and killing of civilians, then our leaders can issue an order to stop operations and we will commit to it to show our good intentions."

Opposition activists reported 25 people killed and five bodies found bearing signs of torture, including two children.

A protest singer in Kafr Ruma was killed when his house was raided. A young man and his sister were shot dead when state forces stormed their village, and a man died of gunshot wounds inflicted during a protest in Damascus.

(Agencies)