Opposition: Syrian Forces Deploy Heavy Weapons as Battle for Aleppo Intensifies
A standoff loomed Sunday between Syrian rebels and government forces near Aleppo as the battle for control of the most populous city intensified and the regime deployed heavy weapons to drive out the fighters.
Government artillery and helicopter gunships pounded rebel positions, according to opposition activists.
“The buzzing of the warplanes don’t stop,” said Bashir Al-Hajji, a spokesman for a Free Syrian Army brigade in Aleppo. “But we already started to move forward from the eastern neighborhoods and God willing, the fight will be over soon and we will be victorious.”
Al-Hajji said clashes have raged for hours at various spots near the Aleppo city center, including close to the presidential palace. He said he is in the Industrial City of Aleppo, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city of Aleppo, which is the commercial capital.
The violence intensified Saturday, with the opposition reporting executions around Damascus and voicing fears of a battle for Aleppo as regime forces approached.
Two large columns of government troops are heading toward the city, according to Free Syrian Army fighters.
Members of the Free Syrian Army are trying to head off some of the approaching troops by attacking them in Idlib province, said Mohamed Said, an Aleppo spokesman for the Syrian Revolution General Commission.
Fighting in the northern Syrian city has raged for days, leaving a trail of widespread destruction and casualties, and forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee.