SYRIAN forces have pounded the northern battleground of Aleppo and two neighbouring towns as violence claimed the lives of about 15 people including women and children, activists say.
Troops also stormed a town near Damascus, torching homes and shops, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, while another activist group reported shelling and attacks from the air by regime forces in and around the capital on Tuesday.
In the northern hub of Aleppo, districts were shelled and fighting erupted between troops and rebels in Suleyman al-Halabi, where a Japanese journalist was killed on Monday, the observatory said.
Video footage issued by activists showed a huge cloud of thick black smoke rising from the town of Marea, which lies between Aleppo and the Turkish border, after reporting heavy shelling there.
Activists said warplanes were in action, firing on areas in and around Aleppo, Syria's second city and commercial capital, that has emerged as the epicentre of the rebellion, as well as suburbs of Damascus.
"The army bombarded rebel weapons stocks in the Aleppo region to prevent the arms from reaching them [in the city]," a Syrian security official said.
"Reinforcements from both sides are heading to Aleppo. It is a war that will last a long time."
One child and a man were killed in Marea, the observatory said.
People were out on the streets there and shops were open but on the outskirts of town, mourners led a funeral procession for a man they said was killed when a fighter jet attacked his home, an AFP correspondent said.
"To paradise we're going, martyrs in our millions," the mourners chanted as the body was carried on a makeshift stretcher wrapped in a blanket, his waxen face left uncovered.
Another nine people, including two women, along with a boy aged nine and girl of five, were killed in shelling in several neighbourhoods of Aleppo, the observatory said.
Aleppo has borne the brunt of the conflict since fighting erupted there a month ago, with the regime warning it would be the scene of the "mother of all battles".
The violence followed a bloody day in which 167 people were killed across Syria, the observatory said.
The bodies of 12 unidentified people were also found in the eastern Damascus neighbourhood of Qaboon, among them two children.
The Local Co-ordination Committees a network of opposition activists reported heavy shelling before dawn from tanks stationed at a checkpoint in Jdaidet Artuz, south-west of the capital.
The LCC said warplanes were flying overhead using mounted machineguns to strafe the southern Damascus suburbs of Al-Hajar al-Aswad and Babila, and fighter jets were also spotted over the Assali neighbourhood.
Syria's popular uprising, which began in March 2011, has spiralled into an armed conflict with more than 23,000 people killed, according to the observatory. The United Nations puts the death toll at 17,000.