Syrian regime air strikes targeted rebel-held police stations inside Aleppo city on Friday (September 14th), ahead of talks between visiting peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and opposition groups, AFP reported.
The agency said three loud explosions were heard in Damascus, where Brahimi spent his first night ahead of meetings with opposition groups tolerated by the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Brahimi, who was appointed earlier this month, said the conflict was getting worse, on arrival at Damascus airport on Thursday when at least 125 people died in violence across Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Brahimi, who succeeded former UN chief Kofi Annan following the failure of his six-point peace plan, met Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Thursday night.
Muallem assured Brahimi of "Syria's full co-operation" but added that any initiative must be based on "the interests of the Syrian people and their freedom of choice without foreign intervention," Syria's official news agency SANA reported.
On the battlefront, Syrian regime forces on Friday used fighter jets and helicopter gunships to pound the city and province of Aleppo, where fierce clashes raged around a military airport, AFP reported.
Despite shelling by regime forces, residents of Marea, Aleppo city and towns across the northern province came out for anti-regime demonstrations after the weekly Muslim prayers.
In Damascus itself, three large explosions were heard in the late morning, according to an AFP reporter.
At least 18 people were killed on Friday, according to the Observatory, with the highest toll in Daraa province where eight civilians, including three children, were killed in air strikes on the town of Bosra al-Sham.
The Britain-based Observatory says that more than 27,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad's rule erupted in March last year. The United Nations puts the toll at 20,000.