Key global figures have cast doubts on a Syria breakthrough at a Geneva peace conference slated for next month, as the regime captured a key town near Lebanon from rebel fighters.
Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, downplayed the chances of a peace agreement being reached in Geneva, while expressing confidence on Monday that the January 22 conference, dubbed "Geneva 2", would go ahead.
But his British counterpart William Hague lamented the fact that after 1,000 days of conflict in Syria, more than 100,000 people had been killed, 2.2 million driven abroad, and 2.5 million cut off by the fighting.
"Today is 1,000 days since Syrians took to the streets calling for freedom," the British foreign secretary wrote on the microblogging site Twitter. "It is time to end the conflict in #Syria."
Kristalina Georgieva, the EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, said Syria faced he most disastrous humanitarian crisis in decades.
The conflict flared in March 2011 with peaceful pro-democracy protests inspired by the Arab Spring but escalated into a full-scale civil war after President Bashar al-Assad's regime launched a brutal crackdown.
And the violence again showed no signs of abating on Monday, with a powerful storm forecast to make matters worse for Syrians, including those who have sought shelter in neighbouring countries like Lebanon and Jordan.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces regained control of the strategic Damascus-Homs highway after seizing most of the town of Nabek in the Qalamoun region.
The army has been fighting for weeks to secure the Qalamoun region, north of Damascus, in a bid to sever rebel supply routes across the nearby border with Lebanon.
But Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said that the army had secured most of Nabek, including all of the western part of the town next to the highway.
Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said the highway, essential to move troops and eapons and cement regime control from Damascus to the central province of Homs, would reopen soon.
The highway has been closed for about 20 days because of fighting that also prevented the delivery of fuel to the capital, Damascus, where shortages have taken a toll on daily life.
Al-Watan also quoted a military source as saying regime forces had killed or captured some 100 opposition forces in Nabek, and seized a large weapons cache.