A few hours later, a powerful car bomb exploded in a Sunni Muslim neighborhood of the capital, causing multiple casualties and massive destruction to nearby buildings, activists said. No further details were immediately available on casualties from the bomb in al-Qadam district, which was detonated near a mosque around 1 a.m. local time Wednesday.
The brother of Syria’s parliament speaker was killed in a hail of bullets by gunmen who targeted him as he drove to work in Damascus. Mohammed Osama Laham, the brother of Speaker Jihad Laham, was the latest government supporter to be targeted for assassination.
Diplomacy has been deadlocked at the U.N., where Syria’s allies Russia and China have repeatedly blocked attempts to approve harsher sanctions in the Security Council.
British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested Tuesday that Assad could be allowed safe passage out of the country if that would guarantee an end to the nation’s civil war.
Asked in an interview with Al Arabiya television if he would contemplate offering Assad an exit route, Cameron said the international community would consider anything ‘‘to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria.’’
In London, officials said Cameron was not suggesting Assad could escape potential international prosecution if he were to be granted passage out of Syria. They also said there were no talks aimed at crafting an exit deal.
Seven generals, meanwhile, fled into neighboring Turkey, the latest of dozens of top-ranking military officers to abandon the regime. The Turkish state news agency Anadolu said they arrived in the Turkish border province of Hatay seeking refuge. Their identities were not disclosed.
They join dozens of other generals who have abandoned the regime. More than 110,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey since the uprising began in March 2011.
In Jordan, which also borders Syria, visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Riad Hijab, the former Syrian prime minister who defected to Jordan in August. It was a rare high-level contact between Moscow and a Syrian opposition figure.
Lavrov said the talks were meant to get firsthand information from the Syrian opposition on how they view a solution to the civil war. ‘‘The idea of the meeting was to get an agreement or a roadmap on how to deal with opposition forces and save the Syrian people,’’ Lavrov told reporters.
Activists and state media reported clashes, shelling and air raids across Syria, including in Houla in central Syria, Saraqeb in northern Idlib province and Kfar Batna, a Damascus suburb.
Activists posted videos online that showed scenes of death and destruction in Kfar Batna. In one, a group of people frantically shout as they search the rubble of a building, removing a slab of cement to reveal the body of a young girl. In another, a dead or wounded man is seen lying on the back of a pickup truck surrounded by smoke, fire and destroyed cars and buildings. The videos appear to be consistent with AP reporting on the airstrikes in suburbs of the capital.
Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Palestinian group Hamas, Ayman Taha, said the Syrian government had sealed its offices in Damascus, finalizing the break between the Islamic militant group and its former patron after Hamas switched sides to support the armed rebellion against Assad’s regime.
Associated Press writers Dale Gavlak in Amman, Suzan Fraser in Ankara, David Stringer in London and Abdullah al-Shihri in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, contributed to this report.