The police on Tuesday said they have regained control of the cities of Grand Goave, St Marc and Dondon after fierce battles.

"We will do what we must to restore order without harming the population," Public Safety Minister Jean-Gerard Dubreuil said.

Several other towns still remain in the control of the rebels bent on driving out Aristide from power.

Grim situation

The United States meanwhile ruled out sending troops to the Caribbean nation while the United Nations warned of an impending humanitarian crisis.

Armed rebels had taken over about a dozen towns last week in battles that have claimed at least 42 lives.

Opposition leader Andre Apaid blamed Aristide for the violence, calling him a "dictator and a despot".

Stubborn Aristide

Despite growing calls for his resignation and escalating street violence, Aristide is refusing to quit as the president.

A former Roman Catholic priest once hailed as a champion of Haiti's fragile democracy, Aristide has faced rising pressure to resign since disputed parliamentary elections in 2000, and now faces accusations from opponents of corruption and political thuggery.

Dismissing anti-government demonstrations in recent months as the work of an elite opposed to rule by the black majority, Aristide says he intends to serve out his second term to 2006.