AMMAN/UNITED NATIONS - Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces have taken the upper hand in escalating battles on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, while top Western and Arab diplomats are seeking a UN Security Council resolution calling for him to go.

Rebels who seized suburbs of Damascus were driven out after three days of fighting that activists say killed at least 100 people.

Activist organizations said 25 people were killed on Monday in Damascus suburbs and dozens more died in other parts of the country, mostly in raids in Homs and the surrounding countryside.

Events on the ground are difficult to confirm, as the Syrian government restricts most access by journalists.

Syria dismissed on Monday US and Western criticism of Damascus and said it would defeat what it called foreign attempts to spread chaos, hours after the White House said President Bashar Assad had lost control and would inevitably fall from power.

"We are not surprised at the lack of wisdom or rationality of these statements and regret that they are still issued by countries that are used to making the Middle East an arena for their follies and failures," the state news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry source as saying late on Monday.

"Syria, which is defending itself today against terrorism and will continue to do so, will be the exception which ... will foil the policies of chaos adopted by these countries," it said.

The Arab League wants the Security Council to pass a resolution backing an Arab peace plan that calls on Assad to relinquish power to his deputy and prepare for elections.

Its Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby and the prime minister of Qatar will make the case at the world body on Tuesday.


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The Arab delegation will be supported in person by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe as the West presents a united front.

The resolution's fate depends on whether the Arabs and their Western backers can persuade Russia not to veto it.

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