Aleppo: The route to Aleppo from the Turkish border is a long web of dirt back roads with miles of exposed ground. But undaunted and in total darkness, dozens of young men jump onto white trucks with their AK-47 rifles, keen to join the fight there.
Syria’s 16-month revolt has finally erupted in the country’s commercial hub, but the momentum was not generated inside the city — it was brought into the historic city’s ancient stone alleyways from the scorched fields of the surrounding countryside.
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But now the things are heating up.
Troops and rebels fought pitched battles near an intelligence headquarters in Aleppo Tuesday, a watchdog said, as a military offensive in Syria’s commercial capital raged into a fourth day.
The fighting erupted when rebels launched an assault before dawn on the powerful air force intelligence branch in Aleppo’s Zahraa district, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Fighting was continuing into the day.
Rebels armed with rocket propelled grenades attacked Aleppo’s main military court as well as a police station and a branch of the ruling Baath Party in the city’s Salhin district, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Meanwhile, the neighbourhoods of Firdoss, Al Mashhad and Ansari were bombarded through the night by government troops, the watchdog said.
Fighting also flared in Salaheddin, the rebels’ main bastion in Aleppo, which was strafed by government helicopter gunships, according to the Syrian Revolution General Committee, a network of activists on the ground.
A security official in Damascus had said that the army had regained some of Salaheddin but it was facing “a very strong resistance.” The rebels, however, denied that the army had advanced even “one metre”.
The Observatory said violence across the country as of on Monday saw 93 people killed - 41 civilians, 19 rebels and 33 soldiers.