China called for a phased-in ceasefire today to end the bloodshed in Syria as the US announced its own plans to shake up the rebel leadership to win a quicker victory.
China - seen by many as an ally of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad due to its consistent opposition to foreign intervention - presented the proposals following a meeting with UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.
The plan calls for the international community to work with Mr Brahimi, whose proposed four-day ceasefire over Muslim holiday Eid completely failed to take hold.
China also warned against the increasing politicisation and militarisation of humanitarian work in Syria.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters a ceasefire should be gradually implemented "by district and in stages" eventually leading to a total end to violence.
The plan did not call for President Assad to be ousted and did not mention any ways of forcing compliance with the plan - although Mr Brahimi is expected to make his own peace proposals soon.
But violence on the ground showed no sign of letting up.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels killed 28 soldiers in attacks on military checkpoints across the country.
State news agency Sana reported that "terrorist" bombs rocked the capital Damascus as al-Qaida-linked groups tried to stoke panic among the population.
Opposition activists claim more than 36,000 people have died since fighting began in March 2011.
But rather than working for a political end to the violence, the US announced plans to shake up the rebel high command on Wednesday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed the self-styled Paris-based government-in-exile Syrian National Council, saying it was out of touch with realities on the ground.
She said she was putting together a list of names and organisations to form a new leadership that could marginalise the al-Qaida-linked militias fighting in Syria and unite the country against the Assad regime.
The US is hoping it can form these into a coherent leadership after opposition figures gather for talks in Qatari capital Doha next week sponsored by the Arab League.
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