Damascus: Rockets killed at least 18 people on Wednesday in regime-held areas of Syria`s main northern city of Aleppo, a focal point of the 33-month conflict pitting loyalists against rebels.
On the political front, a Syrian minister said President al-Assad would remain president and lead any transition agreed upon at Geneva peace talks planned for next month, despite the opposition`s demands he be excluded from the process.
The multiple rocket attack on the Furqan and Meridian districts of Aleppo, the country`s pre-war commercial capital, also wounded at least 30 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
State television said at least 17 people were killed in what it described as an attack by "terrorists," the regime term for the rebels fighting to oust Assad.
Aleppo has been one of the main battlegrounds of the Syrian conflict since rebel fighters seized large swathes of the city in an offensive launched in July last year.
But despite persistent skirmishes between the loyalist and rebel forces, the front lines have changed little in more than a year, reflecting a stalemate cross much of war-torn Syria.
The international community has become increasingly alarmed about the potential spillover into neighbouring countries of the war that has killed an estimated 126,000 people since it erupted in March 2011.
And today`s rocket attack came as Hezbollah said one of its top leaders was killed near Beirut at a time of soaring sectarian tensions in Lebanon over the conflict in its larger neighbour.
"The Islamic resistance announces the death of one of its leaders, the martyr Hassan Hawlo al-Lakiss, who was assassinated near his house in the Hadath region" east of Beirut, Hezbollah said.
It blamed Israel for the assassination of Lakiss, who was part of the powerful Shiite movement`s secretive top leadership.
"Direct accusation is aimed of course against the Israeli enemy which had tried to eliminate our martyred brother again and again and in several places but had failed, until yesterday evening.
"This enemy must bear full responsibility for and all the consequences of this heinous crime," Hezbollah said on its Al-Manar television channel, without elaborating.