BEIRUT - Syrian troops and tanks battled rebels on Friday, opposition activists said, only four days before a troop pullback agreed by President Bashar Assad as part of international envoy Kofi Annan's plan to end a year of bloodshed.
The renewed violence erupted a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the conflict was worsening and attacks on civilian areas persisted, despite assurances from Damascus that its troops had begun withdrawing under the plan.
UN-Arab League mediator Annan said "more far-reaching action is urgently required" to halt all forms of violence by April 12, following a withdrawal of the military's heavy weapons and troops from cities two days earlier.
But activists reported tank fire in at least three urban centers on Friday - the town of Douma near Damascus, the restive city of Homs and Rastan, north of Homs.
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