BEIRUT - A pair of rockets slammed into a car dealership and a residential building in strongholds of Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group in Beirut on Sunday, wounding four people in a new sign that Syria's civil war is increasingly rattling its fragile neighbor.
Lebanon's sectarian divide mirrors that of Syria, and Lebanese armed factions have increasingly taken sides in the fighting next door. There was no claim of responsibility for Sunday's rocket attacks, but they struck just hours after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed to propel Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to victory.
In Baghdad, Syria's foreign minister offered the first direct confirmation that the Assad regime is willing to take part in talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict. A U.N.-sponsored conference, envisioned for next month in Geneva, is to bring together representatives of the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition for talks on a political transition.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Sunday that the government is willing "in principle" to participate. He added that such talks present a "good opportunity for a political solution for the crisis in Syria," but did not say under what terms Assad would dispatch representatives.
The date, agenda and list of participants for the conference remain unclear, and wide gaps remain about its objectives.
Opposition leaders have said that they are willing to attend the Geneva talks, but that Assad's departure from power must top the agenda. Assad has his future will not be determined by international talks and that he will only step down after elections are held.
The foreign minister's statement puts more pressure on Syria's fractured political opposition to signal acceptance as well. The main bloc, the Syrian National Coalition, was meeting in Istanbul for the fourth day Sunday to come up with a unified position on the proposed peace talks, elect new leaders, and expand membership.
Louay Safi, a senior member of the coalition, said participants were bogged down in talks about the expansion, and won't be able to issue a formal statement on the Geneva talks until membership issues are settled.
The opposition's Western and Arab allies remain skeptical about the regime's commitment to negotiations. They have warned Assad that they will step up aid to rebels if the regime does not negotiate in good faith.
Meanwhile, fighting continues unabated. For the last week, regime troops and their Hezbollah allies have waged an offensive against the rebel-held town of Qusair in western Syria.