DAMASCUS, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- The intensive exchange of gunfire between Syrian government forces and armed rebels has shown no sign of respite around Aleppo, a city deemed strategically significant for both sides in their fight for control of the conflict-ravaged country.
As fierce battles continue to cause casualties and make life miserable for many people inside Syria, it is hoped the scheduled meeting on Tuesday between Syria's senior officials and the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) could produce some relief.
ICRC Chief Peter Maurer, who arrived in Damascus on Monday evening, would "discuss pressing humanitarian issues" with President Bashar al-Assad, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and other ministers.
He will also meet head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) Abul-Rahman al-Attar.
"At a time when more and more civilians are being exposed to extreme violence, it is of the utmost importance that we and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent succeed in significantly scaling up our humanitarian response," said Maurer.
Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC and the SARC have distributed relief items to more than 800,000 people, most of them displaced, and ensured that more than 1 million people have sufficient clean water.
The worsening situation in Syria also became a prime concern for foreign workers in the Mideast country.
More than 3,700 Filipinos there have signed up at the Philippine Embassy in Damascus for repatriation, the largest number of Filipino expatriates seeking evacuation since Manila mounted its mandatory repatriation plan in March 2011.
An official from the Philippine Foreign Ministry said the country has already brought 2,124 Filipino workers, most of them household workers, out of Syria.
Currently there are still more than 7,000 Filipinos in Syria, he added.
In other developments, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the threat by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to target civilian airports in Damascus and Aleppo.
The FAS reportedly gave civilian airliners 72 hours to cease flights to these airports starting from Sept. 1.
"We believe these threats are unacceptable. They are a flagrant violation of international law, in particular the Chicago Convention of 1944 on international civil aviation," the ministry said in a statement.
A report by Itar-Tass said the Russian Foreign Ministry will receive a delegation of Syria's opposition, without giving further details.
In an apparent response to Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi's remarks on Monday slamming Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar's recent statements on Syria, a spokesman from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry urged the Syrian government to "focus on avoiding bloodshed and cooperating with international efforts to get Syria out of its current crisis."
Meanwhile in New York, UN-Arab League joint envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former UN chief Kofi Annan, who had worked for six months unsuccessfully to help forge a united front on Syria among members of the international community.
However, Brahimi, who will visit Damascus soon, appeared not so optimistic about his Syria mission, saying it is nearly impossible for him to succeed in ending the violence in Syria.
"I'm coming into this job with my eyes open, and no illusions," he told BBC in an interview.