Syrian violence relocated: Aleppo turns into battlefield

A fighter from the Syrian opposition, guards a checkpoint during clashes with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, in the center of Aleppo on July 25, 2012 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)
Clashes continue in Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, after government troops regained control over most areas of the capital Damascus from the armed opposition.

­The battle for commercial hub of Syrian has stretched into its sixth day on Thursday.

The Syrian army is reportedly using heavy armor, artillery and helicopters to drive out rebels from the areas they control. Also, some RT sources say, the rebel forces received new weapons just before the escalation of violence.

There were unconfirmed reports of Syrian Air Force delivering strikes from its fighter jets at rebel positions, although the use of those against urban areas is inefficient unless precision bombs and other similar weapons are used.

However, amateur videos of alleged bombing by a “Mig fighter” the rebel forces uploaded on the internet actually showed a plane identified by aviation experts as an Aero L-39 Albatros trainer jet. It could theoretically be fitted with ground attack weapons, but is more likely to be used for reconnaissance missions.

On Thursday, militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army attacked military convoys that the Syrian government had deployed to Aleppo. Four of the 25 armored vehicles were destroyed in the attack according to Al Jazeera. Members of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, insist that rebel forces control at least 10 of Aleppo’s districts, which amounts to some 50 per cent of the city, the country’s economic capital.

On the other hand, Syrian national television reports that additional government forces are successfully fighting the rebels in Aleppo and its suburbs. “Dozens of terrorists have been destroyed; the rest of them are downing arms, giving up or fleeing in the direction of the Turkish border,” Itar-Tass reports.

Free Syrian Army opposition fighters in Aleppo (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)
Free Syrian Army opposition fighters in Aleppo (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

Many Aleppo residents left their homes located in the neighborhoods, which saw the worst fighting over recent days. Governmental forces had many of the refugees sheltered in non-affected areas, including the campus of Aleppo University.

Apart from the continued violence, the city’s biggest problem now is the lack of fuel, people on the ground say.

The clashes in Aleppo flared on July 20, when rebel forces launched an all-out assault to take the city. The move came as a similar offensive was entering its final stage in the capital, Damascus, where the fighting was taking place in several neighborhoods.

Now the government has mostly retaken control of Damascus, and the focus of the conflict switched to Aleppo. Both sides rushed reinforcements to the key battlefront on Wednesday, and the fighting, which seemed to calm down by mid-week, had reignited.

The clashes in Aleppo follow months of tension in the city, RT’s Oksana Boyko reports. The region, where many people shared anti-government sentiments, saw quite a number of protest demonstrations before the situation deteriorated into its current state.

But now many residents there say their only wish is to see the violence stopped and order restored. They say they can deal with political reform after their lives are no longer threatened by clashes between armed rebels and government troops.

AFP Photo / Pierre Torres
AFP Photo / Pierre Torres
Syrian opposition fighters deatain a man (C) accused of working for the regime after the take over of the Shaar district police station in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 25, 2012 (AFP Photo / Pierre Torres)
Syrian opposition fighters deatain a man (C) accused of working for the regime after the take over of the Shaar district police station in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 25, 2012 (AFP Photo / Pierre Torres)