Jets and helicopters have continued to strike the northern suburbs of Aleppo as Syrian forces reportedly battle rebels near the airport in war-battered Aleppo.
A constant flow of casualties were rushed to a local hospital that had been allegedly targeted on Friday.
Fierce fighting was also reported in Damascus, a day after the United Nations called time on its observer mission.
Syria’s official SANA news agency said that “armed terrorist groups” - the regime’s phrase for rebels – had been pushed out from areas on both sides of the airport, which is located about 15km southeast of Aleppo’s historical centre.
The report on Friday was the first official acknowledgment that fighting has reached the doorstep of the strategic site in the country’s largest city.
It did not make it clear whether the fighting was closer to the international airport or the adjacent military airfield, a hub for air strike missions on rebel sites in the north.
Rebel footholds in Aleppo have been the target of weeks of Syrian shelling and air attacks as part of wider offensives by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
In Damascus, the capital, activists said that the army clashed with rebels near the main military airport and shelled southern parts of the city.
The latest reports of violence came as UN officials in Syria were starting to close down their military observer mission after failed international attempts to negotiate a cease-fire.
‘The path of war’
Lakhdar Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, will take over from Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative in the Syria conflict, the United Nations said Friday.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon appealed for “strong, clear and unified” international support behind Brahimi as he announced the appointment in a statement.
But the council remains deeply divided on how to proceed with Syria.
The UN Security Council decided to end the mission this coming Sunday, but a small new liaison office is planned to support any future peace efforts.
Edmond Mulet, the UN assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping, said both sides had “chosen the path of war”.
Earlier this year, the UN authorised sending up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria to monitor a ceasefire that UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan negotiated with president Bashar al-Assad.
But hostilities have only worsened since then, and the UN mission suspended its patrols on June 15, leaving the observers largely confined to their hotels.
Russia on Thursday said it did not want to reduce and end the monitoring mission.
“We believe that those members of the council who insisted that the [mission] can’t continue did not really show a commitment to ending hostilities,” Vitaly Churkin, the Russian envoy to the UN, said.
Russia has called a meeting in New York on Friday of key UN ambassadors from the so-called Geneva action group on Syria, but it was not clear whether Western powers would attend.
The meeting was cancelled on Friday.
Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from New York, said the announcement of the meeting itself was “a bit of a surprise”.
“It was really a stunt, is how it’s been called here in the United Nations, by the Russians to call this meeting, ” said Heidler.
“It was not billed to be that big of a meeting,” said Heidler, adding that the cancellation of the meeting is not unexpected.
Meanwhile, Former Syrian prime minister Riyad Hijab, who defected earlier this month, is in Qatar for talks about how to unify opposition efforts to topple President Bashar al-Assad, his spokesman said on Friday.
Hijab, who announced his defection on August 6 becoming the most senior serving official to quit Assad’s administration,
arrived on Thursday for a three-day visit.
Russia on Friday rejected a proposal to set up no-fly zones to help civilians flee fighting in Syria’s border areas after the
United States said it was ready to consider the move.
You have to solve citizen security issues using methods put in practice by international humanitarian law,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Sky News Arabia in an interview to be aired in full on Saturday and released to Russian
“But if you try to create no-fly zones and safety zones for military purposes by citing an international crisis – this is unacceptable,” he said.
Russia and China have vetoed three Western-backed Security Council resolutions criticising Damascus and threatening sanctions.
Civilians continue to be targeted, and on Thursday activists reported that Syrian forces shelled a group of people queuing outside a bakery in the Qadi Askar district of eastern Aleppo.
The news followed accusations by rights groups that the Syrian regime had committed another atrocity on Wednesday when around 40 people, including women and children, were killed in a massive air strike on civilians in the rebel bastion of Azaz, north of Aleppo.
On Friday, a Turkish diplomat said that more than 2,000 Syrians, including one defecting general, fled to Turkey after the violence in Aleppo.
The latest group of 2,204 people brought the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey to more than 62,000, the diplomat told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.