truck burns after a shelling at the suburb of Erbeen, in Damascus, July 21, 2012. REUTERS photo
Syrian forces headed by President Bashar al-Assad’s brother used helicopters yesterday in a new offensive against rebels in Damascus, as clashes also raged in Syria’s second city Aleppo, activists said, Agence France-Presse reported.
The Fourth Brigade headed by Maher al-Assad was leading the assault in the Damascus neighborhood of Barzeh, triggering an exodus of residents, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In Damascus, the Observatory reported attacks by government forces in the neighborhoods of Mazzeh that had once been held by rebels. It said that troops used helicopters gunships in the attack, causing heavy casualties, The Associated Press reported. Rebels launches offensive to ‘liberate’ Aleppo
Syrian rebels have launched an offensive to “liberate” the country’s largest city of Aleppo, an opposition commander said yesterday.Col. Abdul-Jabbar Mohammed Aqidi, the commander of rebel forces in Aleppo province, said in the video posted on Youtube, “we gave the orders for the march into Aleppo with the aim of liberating it.”
He called on government troops to defect and join the opposition, and said rebels will protect members of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority sect, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam, saying “our war is not with you but with the al-Assad family.”
Saeed said rebels are in full control of the central Salaheddine district and the nearby Sakhour area. He added that thousands of residents have fled tense quarters of the city for safer neighborhoods and the suburbs.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said July is shaping up to be the deadliest month of the conflict so far, with 2,752 people killed in the first three weeks - already nearly as many as the previous month.