In Focus | Syria

Syrian fighter jets raid Aleppo rebel area

Most neighbourhood residents flee Shaikh Said after rebels take control

  • AFP& AP
  • Published: 17:58 February 2, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • Lebanese army soldiers search civilians at one of their checkpoints at the entrance of Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town in eastern Lebanon near the Syrian border, Saturday, February 2, 2013.

Aleppo: Syrian warplanes raided a strategic district of the embattled northern city of Aleppo on Saturday, a day after insurgents seized the neighbourhood, a monitoring group said.

“Warplanes carried out several air strikes on Shaikh Said in southern Aleppo,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that fierce clashes pitted insurgents against troops in the heart of Syria’s second city.

Rebels seized Shaikh Said on Friday, a resident and activists told AFP.

“Rebel fighters seized total control of Shaikh Said in southern Aleppo, after troops exhausted by 48 hours of fighting withdrew from the district,” one resident of the area said on condition of anonymity.

“Most neighbourhood residents fled the area after rebels took control.”

The takeover was a strategic victory for the rebels, as it secured a key route linking Syria’s second city to its international airport.

According to Aleppo-based activist Abu Hesham, the battle for Aleppo’s airport has become a key rebel objective.

Violence exploded in the city last July 20, when the army launched an all-out campaign against a rebel onslaught on the country’s former commercial hub. It has since been divided into rebel- and army-held districts.

In Damascus, a blast in the central Shaghur district on Saturday injured one man, while rebels and troops clashed in Qadam in the east of the capital, said the Observatory, which is kept informed by a network of activists and media.

South of Damascus, the army pounded the rebel enclave of Moadamiyet Al Sham, the watchdog added, in a renewed effort to snuff out the insurgency on the capital’s doorstep.

Rebels and troops also fought in Irbin and Daraya near Damascus, the Observatory said, a day after 85 people were killed in violence across the country — 32 soldiers, 31 rebels and 22 civilians.

A total of more than 60,000 people have died in Syria’s 22-month conflict, according to UN figures.

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