BEIRUT  - Regime forces Sunday pressed a fierce offensive in Homs after overrunning a key neighbourhood of the central city, according to a watchdog, which also listed 23 children killed in violence across Syria.

The latest bloodletting comes after international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned in Moscow that Syria was facing a choice between “hell or the political process” after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Brahimi warned Sunday the Syrian war was worsening “by the day” as he announced a peace plan he believed could find support from world powers, including key Syria ally Russia.

Brahimi’s comments in Cairo after meeting Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi came as Russia despatched a third warship to its naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus in readiness for a possible evacuation of its nationals.

The situation in Syria “is very bad and getting worse by the day,” Brahimi told reporters, a day after warning in Moscow that Damascus faced a choice between “hell or the political process.” He said he had crafted a ceasefire plan “that could be adopted by the international community.”

“I have discussed this plan with Russia and Syria... I think this proposal could be adopted by the international community,” the UN and Arab League envoy said, without giving details.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army, after Saturday seizing the Deir Baalbeh district in fighting which left dozens dead, fired off barrages of rockets into surrounding rebel-held neighbourhoods Sunday as it sought to capitalise on its victory. Troops also bombarded the nearby opposition stronghold of Rastan. The Britain-based Observatory, which gathers its information from a network of activists and medics in civilian and military hospitals, said the final death toll from Saturday’s clashes had not been finalised due to communications difficulties in the area.

Near the capital on Sunday, loyalist troops carried out air raids on towns along the eastern outlying belt and on Daraya in the southwest, while fighting between rebels and the army erupted in the northeastern and southwestern suburbs. The Observatory said 13 children were among the victims of bombardments in and around Damascus on Saturday, while 10 children were killed in air strikes across Aleppo province, including on rebel-held Aazaz near the Turkish border.

Analysts say the surge in air strikes by Syrian forces is a desperate attempt by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to reverse rampant gains by rebel fighters, especially in the north of the country. Rebels meanwhile made further advances on Sunday in the battle for the Hamidiyeh military post in the northwest province of Idlib which they stormed the previous day, the watchdog said. During Sunday’s clashes, three insurgents were wounded by machinegun fire, while warplanes raided a nearby village, the watchdog said. A takeover of the Hamidiyeh post would pave the way for a rebel offensive against the nearby Wadi Deif base, one of the government’s last outposts in the north.

Opposition fighters, mostly from the jihadist Al-Nusra Front, have been closing in on the base since overrunning the nearby town of Maaret al-Numan in early October. In the south, a rebel was killed on Sunday in battles for control of several small border crossings along the regime-held frontier with Jordan, the Observatory said.

On the ground, at least 100 people were killed in violence on Sunday, 43 of them civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

On Sunday, a Russian warship carrying a marines unit has left its Black Sea port for Syria amid preparations for a possible evacuation of nationals living and working in the strife-torn country, news reports said. The reports said the Azov and Nikolai Filchenkov landing ships had also been sent to Syria from their Russian bases.

The military source said the Novocherkassk would arrive at Tartus within the first 10 days of January. The Novocherkassk and another landing ship called Saratov both made a rare port call to Tartus in late November.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Syrian refugees on Sunday that victory over the “tyrant” President Bashar al-Assad was at hand.

“I can see it clearly that the help of God is near,” Erdogan said in televised remarks at Turkey’s Akcakale refugee camp in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa.

Erdogan was welcomed to the 25,000-people settlement by thousands of cheering Syrians, who were waving Turkish flags and holding a giant portrait of him. “You have suffered so much but do not despair,” Erdogan said. The Turkish leader was accompanied by Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, who flanked the premier along with several of Erdogan’s deputies. Erdogan’s visit was the first since Syrian mortars killed five Turks on October 3 in Akcakale, setting off weeks of artillery attacks from both sides of the border.