Fighting has continued in Syria on the eve of the first parliamentary election in four years.
Activists say barrel bombs were used in Talbiseh, leading local residents to evacuate the area. Two people were reported to have been killed and many injured.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State has retaken a strategically important town near the Turkish border, on a supply route to its territory in Aleppo province.
An eruption of fighting in the region in the last fortnight marks the most serious challenge to a truce brokered by the US and Russia.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, visiting Damascus has been told by the Syrian government that Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been ordering insurgents to stage attacks aimed at foiling planned Geneva talks.
Wednesday’s planned elections have been criticised as a sham by the international community and the opposition.
But some in Damascus resent what they see as outside interference.
“Who should decide – them or us? How can someone sitting in a five star hotel come and take over power?” said a Damascus resident.
All candidates are said to be pro-government and the vote’s being held only in state-held areas, not in those controlled by rebels of ISIL.
But the head of the election committee Hisham Al-Shaar says people displaced from some of the worst war-torn areas will still be able to vote.
“For governorates that face security problems, such as suburbs like Aleppo and Dair al-Zor, we will open polling centres in many governorates in order not to deprive any citizens of their right to vote in the election,’‘ Al-Shaar said.
Video from the UN’s World Food Programme shows relief supplies being dropped on Deir al-Zour – the first such aid for over two years to reach the city which is besieged by ISIL.