Fri, Jul 27, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Battles rage with troops, rebels fighting for Aleppo

AFP, DAMASCUS

A rebel takes aim fire during clashes in Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Fighting in Aleppo raged through the night and into yesterday, a monitoring group said, after the army and rebels rushed in reinforcements for what is seen as a decisive battle for Syria’s second city.

Clashes also erupted yesterday in the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in Damascus, activists said, as regime forces set about mopping up the last pockets of rebel resistance in the capital.

The battles in Aleppo followed a day of heavy fighting in the northern city in which at least 19 civilians, three rebel fighters and an unknown number of soldiers died, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“There are clashes in Muhafaza District and shelling on the Mushhad and Sheikh Badr neighborhoods, which killed a child and injured seven people,” the Britain-based Observatory said.

Aleppo’s Salaheddin neighborhood, scene of fierce fighting for days, was also bombarded by regime troops during the night, the watchdog said.

Fighting has flared in Aleppo since rebel forces last Friday launched an all-out assault to overrun Syria’s commercial hub, in a move analysts say is aimed at establishing a bastion inside the country close to the rebel military headquarters across the border in Turkey.

Both sides have rushed in reinforcements and the fighting on Wednesday saw the regime strafing rebel strongholds with helicopter gunships, according to the Observatory.

Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Oqaidi of the rebel Free Syrian Army said via Skype that a “large number” of troops have been moved from Idlib Province to Aleppo.

A Syrian newspaper journalist confirmed the rebels were also reinforcing.

“Hundreds of rebels from all over the north of Syria are arriving in Aleppo, which appears to have become the decisive battle,” the journalist said.

In Damascus, street battles were being fought yesterday in the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in the south of the capital, the Observatory said.

A resident of the camp reached by phone confirmed the fighting.

“It started at 7am. The night was quiet. They are using RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and heavy machineguns,” he said.

After a week of heavy clashes in Damascus, activists say regime forces have largely regained control of the city, with only a few pockets of rebel resistance remaining.

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