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MIDEAST > Army launches new offensive in Aleppo

BEIRUT / DAMASCUS

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A Free Syrian Army soldier (back) fires his weapon during clashes in Aleppo. AP photo

A Free Syrian Army soldier (back) fires his weapon during clashes in Aleppo. AP photo

The Syrian army launched a new bombardment of the rebel-held Salaheddin district of the country’s commercial capital Aleppo yesterday, after it completed its deployment of reinforcements.

Clashes also broke out between troops and rebel fighters in the Sukkari, Hamdaniyeh and Ansari districts of the northern city, scene of heavy fighting since July 20, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that at least 13 people were killed across Syria yesterday.

Elsewhere, regime forces pounded rebel-held Rastan in the central province of Homs, the Observatory said. “Regime forces dropped more than 60 shells on Rastan, at a rate of four to five shells a minute,” the watchdog added.

The clashes came after Syria’s army completed its deployment of reinforcements to the embattled northern city of Aleppo. A high-level security source said that at least 20,000 troops were posted on the ground, while the rebels who claim to control 50 percent of the city had also sent reinforcements to Aleppo, Agence France-Presse reported. “The war is likely to be long, because there will have to be street battles in order to get rid of the terrorists,” the source said, declining to be named. “All the reinforcements have arrived and they are surrounding the city,” the source said. “The army is ready to launch its offensive, but is awaiting orders.” “The battle for Aleppo has not yet begun, and what is happening now is just the appetizer. The main course will come later,” the official said.

On Aug. 4, violence nationwide killed 205 people, 115 civilians, 38 rebel fighters and 52 soldiers, the Observatory said.

‘Damascus cleared’
The Syrian army said on Aug. 4 it has seized the last rebel-held district of the capital. A brigadier general who refused to give his name said it had retaken the hold-out rebel district of Tadamun in Damascus, a day after the United Nations deplored the failure of diplomacy to end a conflict that has reportedly claimed more than 21,000 lives in nearly 17 months.

“We have cleansed all the districts of Damascus, from Al-Midan to Mazzeh, from Al-Hajar Al-Aswad to Qadam... to Tadamun,” the last rebel bastion in the capital, said the officer.Regime forces also raided the district of Qaboon yesterday, arresting several civilians, the Observatory said, adding that one of the detainees was a 12-year-old child.

August/06/2012

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