France wants the U.N. Security Council to extend humanitarian aid for Syrian civilians, French U.N. ambassador Gerard Araud said on Saturday even as the Syrian government forces escalated their onslaught on rebel-held areas in the city of Aleppo and retook control of parts of Damascus.

“Progress on the political level will be difficult,” Mr Araud told Europe 1 radio. “We will try to get Russia and China to work with us at least on the humanitarian questions,” he said, adding that some 3 million Syrians were in need of food and medicine.

“We should convince the Russians and Chinese that they are going down the wrong path and they are dragging us into a final disaster, civil war, chaos and at the end maybe the victory of the radicals,” he added.

Conflict in Syria continues

Meanwhile, in Aleppo, Syria’s main commercial centre, rebels said they had foiled two attempts by government forces to recapture the district of Salaheddin south of the northern city and seized two tanks from the army.

“Fierce clashes took place between our fighters and the regime troops near the Syrian television station in Aleppo,” said Abu Omar al-Halabi, a commander in the rebel Free Syrian Army.

He added that rebels had made a “tactical retreat” after government used fighter jets to strafe the area.

Rebels and government forces have been battling in Aleppo for a week now, with neither side making significant gains. The battle could decide the course of the 17-month conflict in Syria.

Elsewhere in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have regained most of the district of al-Tadamon in southern Damascus after heavy fighting with rebels, said activists.

Government forces have been carrying out house-to-house raids in Damascus since July 18 when a bomb attack killed four top security officials from al-Assad’s inner circle. More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since a pro-democracy revolt erupted in March last year, according to the opposition.

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