Syrian rebels have been pushed back from a strategically important district of Aleppo, but clashes have continued in the country’s second city.
Commanders from the Free Syrian Army said they had been forced to withdraw from the southern gateway of Salaheddine by a fierce bombardment.
Visiting journalists saw only a few residents walking among the rubble as they headed back in.
“Everything fell on our heads. I came to check my house to see if it was destroyed or not. No more than that. I hope that everything will calm down and that everything will go back to normal and that the country will get back to normal,” said one man.
One rebel commander said 250 people had been killed in the area over three days, mostly by shelling and air attacks.
The rebels claim government forces have been reluctant to send in troops.
On the outskirts of Aleppo, the funerals took place for two rebel soldiers. Witnesses said they had been killed in clashes with the Syrian army.
Although sometimes low on ammunition, it seems rebels have managed to resist the government offensive.
On the diplomatic front, the veteran Algerian mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to be named soon as the new UN-Arab League envoy to Syria.
It is thought he may be appointed as early as next week to replace Kofi Annan, who is stepping down because of the deadlock.
The former Algerian foreign minister has served as a diplomatic troubleshooter in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Africa.