(DAMASCUS) -- Syrian troops are pushing ahead with a new assault on dissidents as U.N. envoy, Kofi Annan, holds talks with President Assad in Damascus in an effort to end the fighting.
The U.N. sent Annan to Syria in an effort to call for an immediate ceasefire by both government and opposition troops, the BBC reports. Assad told Annan that no political dialogue can take place as long as "armed terrorist groups" are operating in the country.
There were reports of fresh attacks by Assad's troops on the northwestern city Idlib as Annan arrived.
According to the U.N., 7,500 people have died in the past year from the conflict in Syria.
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