ALEPPO (AFP) - Syrian forces pounded rebel hubs in the city of Aleppo and battled opposition fighters around Damascus on Friday, activists said, as the UN reported a surge in refugees and named a new envoy to try to end the conflict.
The United Nations announced that veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi will take over as international envoy from Kofi Annan, who quit earlier this month.
In his first tentative comments, Brahimi admitted he was not over-confident he would be able to end the 17-month-old conflict.
"I might very well fail but we sometimes are lucky and we can get a breakthrough," he told the BBC in an interview. But "these missions have to be undertaken. We have got to try. We have got to see that the Syrian people are not abandoned."
On the ground, violence was also reported in other towns and villages across the country, with the bloodletting showing no signs of any let-up a day after the United Nations formally called time on its observer mission.
"The violence and the suffering in Syria must come to an end," UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in a statement announcing the appointment of Brahimi.
Ban called on the international community to give "strong, clear and unified" support to the new envoy, after Annan complained that his mission had been mission had been hamstrung by the deep rift on the UN Security Council between the West and traditional Damascus allies Beijing and Moscow.