UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan left Damascus on Sunday without managing to secure an accord to end bloodletting in Syria, as fighting raged in major flashpoints leaving dozens more dead.
Annan departed at the end of a two-day mission during which he said he presented President Bashar al-Assad with "concrete proposals" to halt unrest monitors say has claimed more than 8,500 lives since March last year.
On the ground however, more than 120 people -- 47 of them civilians caught in the crossfire -- have been killed in two days of clashes between armed rebels and regular soldiers, according to figures of rights monitors.
Most of the deaths occurred in an ferocious assault by regime forces against rebel bastions in the northwestern Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that fighting also occurred Sunday in the central city of Hama, the nearby province of Homs, and in the Damascus countryside.
Annan on his first mission to Syria to attempt to secure a halt to the violence, had emerged positive from talks on Sunday with Assad, a follow-up to their first meeting the previous day.
"It's going to be tough, it's going to be difficult, but we have to have hope. I am optimistic," Annan told reporters, while stressing the urgency of finding a solution.
"The situation is so bad and so dangerous that all of us cannot afford to fail," the former UN chief warned, in response to a suggestion that dialogue with the government was futile.
Assad had insisted during their first meeting on Saturday there would be no dialogue until the "terrorist groups" he claims are fomenting the violence are disbanded.
Opposition figures in their meeting with Annan however were adamant that the regime troops pressing the crackdown on dissent must first return to barracks before talks can begin.
Diplomats at the United Nations in New York had expressed pessimism about the prospects for Annan's mission after troops poured into Idlib city, which lies in the province by the same name, late on Saturday just hours after his first meeting with Assad.
Annan told the media conference that he had on Sunday discussed with Assad ways to halt the unrest rocking Syria.
"I presented a set of concrete proposals which would have a real impact on the situation on the ground and which will help launch a process aimed at putting an end to this crisis," the former UN chief said.
"The realistic response is to embrace change and reforms," he added.