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Activists and state media report fighting across Syria as Switzerland peace conference begins

Activists and Syrian state media are reporting clashes in different parts of Syria as a peace conference to end its nearly three-year civil war began in Switzerland.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported clashes Wednesday between government forces and opposition fighters in the suburbs of Damascus, Daraa in the south, Idlib and Aleppo in the north and the central province of Homs.

State news agency SANA says government forces battled "terrorists" around the country — including the northern province of Idlib where fighters from Chechnya, Egypt, Turkey, Bosnia and Iraq were killed. State media always refers to opposition fighters as "terrorists."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the peace conference Wednesday in the Swiss city of Montreux, saying challenges ahead are "formidable."