Rebels in southern Syria say they are planning a spring offensive against Damascus, which regime and opposition sources say will include fighters trained by Western forces in neighbouring Jordan.

The Syrian army, meanwhile, is redeploying troops in Quneitra province located on the ceasefire line with Israel, and stepping up shelling on rebel positions in Daraa on the Jordan border to stop any advance, opposition fighters say.

The looming showdowns come after regime and opposition representatives failed last week to reach consensus at talks in Geneva, and amid reports that some Gulf Arab states have pledged to arm the rebels.