(CNN) – Syrian government forces pounded opposition sites with helicopter gunfire and ground assaults Friday, opposition activists said.
At least 10 civilian and opposition fighters were injured in the reported assault on the area known as the Mountain of the Kurds near the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Four government troops died, the group said.
Helicopters also fired Friday night on several locations in Idlib province, including Kinda village, Kabaneh, Aako and Abu Risha in Jabal Akrad, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria reported. Several people were reportedly wounded, the group said.
In Homs province, 10 people died and dozens were wounded in what the LCC described as “continous bombing” in Hawleh. Military reinforcements were sent in an attempt to storm the city, the group said.
Government forces also shelled opposition in the Homs neighborhoods of Sultanieh and Jobar as people gathered for Friday protests, opposition activists said.
And in Aleppo, armored vehicles were seen in the streets for the first time since the uprising in Syria began in March 2011, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
All told, the LCC said at least 33 people died in the fighting on Friday, including five children.
CNN cannot independently confirm reports from within Syria because the government strictly limits access by foreign journalists.
In another development Friday, 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims abducted in Syria were freed, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s office confirmed in a statement. They were in Turkey on Friday and were expected to be back in Beirut by Friday night, according to the statement.
The pilgrims — all men — were detained Tuesday by an armed group in northern Syria soon after crossing the border from Turkey. They were on their way back from visiting holy sites in Iran.
The incident raised communal tensions in Lebanon, with protesters in the mainly Shiite areas of southern Beirut taking to the streets Tuesday and Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said there is no fallback plan to deploying monitors to some of the nation’s most embattled cities.
U.N. monitors on the ground in five cities are making “all possible efforts to stop violence” and have had “some dampening effect,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
However, they have not managed to halt the violence, he said.
Ban said the full cadre of observers — 300 — authorized by the United Nations Security Council last month would be on site in the coming days.
“They are patrolling every day, whenever possible,” he said. “They try their best to cease this violence. It requires strong political will at the level of President Assad, and also it requires full cooperation by the opposition forces.”
As protests continue, a report by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria noted the growing power of forces opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.
“Whereas government forces had previously been responding primarily to demonstrations, they now face armed and well-organized fighters — bolstered by defectors who joined them,” the report said.
“Gross violations continue unabated,” the commission’s report said, adding that regime forces commit most of the human rights violations.
Violence has raged daily. About 40 civilians were killed across the country Thursday, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. Most of the deaths were in the provinces of Homs, Hama and Idlib.
U.N. officials say more than 9,000 people, mostly civilians, have died and tens of thousands have been uprooted since the uprising began in March 2011. Opposition groups report a death toll of more than 11,000 people.
The commission said abuses have mounted since March, even though al-Assad’s government and opposition forces said they have embraced U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan that includes a cease-fire.
The report pointed to bombing attacks in Damascus, Aleppo and Daraa between March and May, including the suicide car bombings in Damascus on May 10 that left 55 people dead.
The report was issued as Syria’s newly elected parliament convened to elect a speaker and swear in new members. The government said the elections were all-inclusive, but opposition forces call the process a sham.