Heavy shelling by government forces on Saturday targeted schools scattered across rebel-held areas along the outskirts of Damascus, activists said, as state media reported that the schools were being used as barracks for insurgents, dpa reported.
"Dozens of schools were targeted by government forces since Friday night, in the areas of Tadamoon, Azamiyeh al-Sham and Zabandani," activist Haytham al-Abdallah told dpa.
Abdallah said the troops' shelling is aiming at destroying education and health facilities in rebel-held areas across Syria.
The state-run news agency SANA rebuffed such rebel claims and said schools in some areas near Damascus are being transformed into "barracks for terrorists to launch attacks and prepare car bombs to target the innocent Syrian people."
Elsewhere, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported heavy fighting in the northern provinces, especially in Aleppo, where rebels staged a wide-scale attack on a army base at the outskirts of the city.
The observatory said the rebel attack has inflicted heavy casualties, but did not specify numbers.
News from Syria cannot be independently verified, as authorities bar most foreign media from restive areas in the country. In Lebanon, five Syrians who were plotting to bomb a Shiite religious ceremony were arrested overnight.
According to the Lebanese National News Agency, the men were preparing an explosive device to disrupt an Ashura ceremony on Sunday, in the market town of Nabatiyeh, 54 kilometres south of Beirut.
Syrian rebels, who are mainly Sunni Muslims, have accused the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah of supporting and helping the regime of President Bashar al-Assad since the outbreak of the uprising in 2011.
Shiite Muslims commemorate the day of Ashura by staging mourning rituals to mark the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, who was killed at the hands of Umayyad troops in the year 680.