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Syrian death toll rises ahead of expected UN envoy visit

At least 41 people were killed among Syria's regime and Islamist opposition forces yesterday after barrel bomb reports
Emergency responders rush following a reported barrel bomb attack by government forces in the Al-Muasalat area in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on 6 November 2014 (AFP)

At least 41 people have been killed in clashes between Syrian regime forces and opposition fighters, including Al-Qaeda’s local affiliate in the south of the country, reports said.

The forces were killed on Thursday, according to Agence-France Presse (AFP) citing a monitoring group’s report, during fighting in Beit Tima, a majority Druze region near Damascus.

There has been fighting between regime and rebel forces in the region for more than a year, but yesterday’s toll is the highest in a single day since violence began there, according to AFP.

“26 elements from NDF [pro-regime, National Defence Forces] at least died during [al-Qaeda affiliate] al-Nusra and the Islamic battalions’ attack on Bet Tima area, the attack also resulted in death of 15 fighters from the Nusra and battalions,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on its website. It relies on a network of sources on the ground.

Beit Tima remains under regime control.

Syria's war since the 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has claimed at least 191,000 lives.

Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations Special Envoy tasked with seaking a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict in Syria, is expected to arrive in the capital city of Damascus on Saturday, according to the BBC. He will be meeting with Assad to discuss his proposal for "freeze zones" particularly in Aleppo. The idea is to create temporary ceasefires under UN supervision to allow for the entry of humanitarian and medical aid.

Separately, at least 12 civilians, including women and children, were killed on Thursday when Syrian regime helicopters dropped explosive-packed barrels bombs in a district of Aleppo city, the Observatory reported.

The attack hit the Muasalat district of Shaar neighbourhood in the rebel-held east of the city.