Dubai: Helicopters pounded Aleppo and armoured units positioned themselves for an onslaught that could determine the fate of Syria’s biggest city as more than 20,000 people have been killed since the start of an anti-regime revolt in March 2011, it was reported yesterday.
“At least 20,028 people, among them 13,978 civilians and rebels, 968 army defectors and 5,082 members of the regime forces have been killed since the start of the revolt on March 15 of last year,” Rami Abdul Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Observatory reported helicopter attacks on the central Salah Al Deen district of Aleppo and fighting elsewhere in the city.
“Helicopters are participating in clashes at the entrance to Salah Al Deen district and bombarding it,” the group said. “There are also violent clashes at the entrances to Shakour district.”
Salah Al Deen was one of the first areas seized by the rebels since they began a push to control the city after being routed from the capital, Damascus.
An Aleppo-based activist, Mohammad Saeed, said the government counterattack had begun and rebels were fighting back in several other areas as well.
“Thanks be to God, they haven’t succeeded in entering any of the neighbourhoods yet,” he said.
“We have now destroyed eight armoured vehicles,” he said. “There are 100 tanks massed on the outskirts of the district.
“The battle will be hard because there is no balance of forces but we are determined and we have faith in God.”
While the rebels’ small arms and rocket-propelled grenades are little match for the heavy armour of government forces, Abdul Rahman said “the army has not made any progress since the morning, and even lost five tanks.”