In parts of Aleppo on Monday, snipers fired from roofs of buildings and artillery fire rang out, while other areas of the city are oddly normal.
CNN's Ben Wedeman and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry.
In the besieged Aleppo neighborhood of Salaheddin, Wedeman said drivers had to dodge piles of rubble in the streets. Residents evacuating to safer neighborhoods left their homes with all the belongings they could carry, he said.
An elderly man, carrying a briefcase and a bag full of jam, said he was leaving the neighborhood to move in with his daughter.
"What kind of leader does this to his own people?" the man said as he left his home.In Salaheddin, a man in a taxi's front seat has blood on his shirt. The Free Syrian Army members said he'd been hit by sniper fire.
Neighborhoods have been hit by bombs, too.
"Within the last 10 minutes, we have watched as an aircraft of the Syrian army has circled over the western part of the city - a very crowded and heavily populated part of the city - and dropped two bombs on what we are told is Saif al-Dawla neighborhood," Wedeman said Monday. "This has been going on much of the day. Every four or five minutes, you'll hear a explosion. Sometimes from the aircraft, sometimes from mortars, artillery and the rocket-propelled grenades."
Another rebel-controlled neighborhood, however, was in a much better state, Wedeman said. Civilians were out and about, shops and bakeries were open and electricity went in and out.
"It was quite incongruous because of the fair number of people in the street," he said. "We went to a bakery, a barbershop was open, and there was a cart where a man was selling tomatoes. But at the same time, in these areas where there are relatively few fighters of the Free Syrian Army and mostly civilians, you can see where the large bombs have been dropped. We saw one house where two people were killed in the day before yesterday, clearly hit by a large bomb dropped by an aircraft."
In Salaheddin, neighborhood fighters are nervous and expect the Syrian Army soon, Wedeman said.
For weeks, the fighting has raged in and around Syria's most populous city. It and the capital of Damascus are considered strategic spots to win for each side.
"Aleppo is Syria's largest city, with more than 2.5 million people living in it, and it's very much the commercial capital of the country, the middle of the agricultural heartland. It's also where much of the manufacturing in Syria takes place," said Wedeman. "And if you want to compare it to the United States, it's a little bit like the difference of New York, the financial capital of the United States, and Damascus or Washington, the political capital. So there is a very much a feeling that if somehow the Free Syrian Army was able to take control of Aleppo, then, really, the days are numbered for the Syrian regime."