Syrian activists say the army has bombed two Damascus suburbs and poured in military reinforcements in an effort to try to reclaim territory controlled by rebels.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday the army fired rockets at the rebel-held Daraya and Moadamiah suburbs southwest of the capital. The group said it feared that troops massing on the suburbs' outskirts could be the prelude to an imminent ground assault.
On Thursday, United Nations peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said the United States and Russia agree on the need to find a "creative solution" to bring Syria back from the brink.
Brahimi held three-way talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a human rights meeting in Dublin earlier Thursday.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that intelligence shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be considering using chemical weapons as rebel successes in the civil war put more and more pressure on his government.
The White House has warned Assad that using chemical gas against his own people would be a "red line" for the United States and bring serious consequences.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad has told Lebanese television that if Syria had chemical weapons, it would not use them against the Syrian people. He said the West is using threat of chemical weapons as an excuse to intervene.