Regime launches attack to retake Aleppo
Heavy fighting reported Saturday morning in the second city of Syria, including in the southern neighborhoods, which are surrounded and shelled by the forces of President Bashar Assad. The Syrian army reinforcements were massing for the past days on the outskirts of Aleppo, which became a major issue of conflict. Early Saturday, the forces of Bashar al-Assad launched their offensive to retake rebel areas, activists reported.
"We can say that the assault began," said Rami Abdel Rahman, president of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "The heaviest fighting since the beginning of the revolt took place in several neighborhoods," he said, adding that the military forces "head to the neighborhood of Salaheddin," where many insurgents are entrenched.
AFP reported that Salahuddin is surrounded and shelled from 8:00 in the morning by the army.
According to the SOHR, many residents flee the al-Soukkari (south) quarter, after the heavy bombardment. Violent clashes were also reported in the area of Hamdaniye (west). According to a Syrian security source, the rebels are holed up in a very narrow lanes, making it difficult to battle. In preparation for the regime's attack, the insurgents have not initiated any major operation for the past two days, saving their anti-tank rockets.
According to experts, this battle is extremely important for both parties. The regime is relying on its allies among the wealthy merchants of the city to finance part of its war effort, while the rebels wish to replicate the schema with the Libyan city of Benghazi in creating a protected area.