The Syrian army launched a massive assault on rebels in Aleppo yesterday amid growing world concern about the risks of reprisals against the civilian population of the country’s second city.
Troops, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, moved on Southwestern districts of the commercial hub.
Artillery pounded Salaheddin and other rebel neighbourhoods as ground troops made their advance. Trapped civilians crowded into basements, seeking refuge from the intense bombardment. “The fiercest clashes of the uprising are taking place in several neighbourhoods of the city,” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman said.
At least 10 soldiers and three rebels were killed in fierce fighting after the launch of the assault. “The regime’s forces tried to storm the headquarters of Salaheddin but thank God, the heroes of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army repulsed the attack,” FSA Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Oqaidi said.
“We have now destroyed eight armoured vehicles. There are 100 tanks massed on the outskirts of the district. The battle will be hard because there is no balance of forces,” he added.
A large number of civilians took refuge in public parks. “Rebels are stationed in narrow streets, in which fighting will be difficult,” a regime security official said.