Battle for control of Aleppo intensifies
Fighting over Syria’s largest city intensified yesterday, with the most widespread battles reported there in two months as rebel forces launched another offensive to rout president Bashar Assad’s forces from Aleppo, activists said.
Some of the heaviest fighting erupted in the predominantly Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maksoud, which was drawn into the conflict for the first time. Kurds make up Syria’s largest minority and have been split in their loyalties.
Since the uprising against Mr Assad began 18 months ago, some Kurds have sided with the rebels while others have supported the regime. Aleppo’s Sheikh Maksoud neighbourhood is mostly under the control of a pro-government Kurdish group. There were conflicting reports on whether Kurdish gunmen took part in yesterday’s fighting.
Aleppo, a city of three million that was once a bastion of support for Mr Assad, has emerged as a key battleground in Syria’s civil war. Its fall would give the opposition a major strategic victory, with a stronghold in the north near the Turkish border. A rebel defeat, at the very least, would buy the regime more time.
In Geneva yesterday, the UN’s leading human rights body voted to extend the mission of its independent expert panel probing alleged war crimes in Syria. The panel has blamed Syria’s government forces for the majority of serious abuses since the uprising began in March 2011.
The stand-off has been most apparent in Aleppo, where each side controls roughly half the area.
Late on Thursday, rebel commanders from the main group of fighters, the Free Syrian Army, announced they are embarking on what they called a “decisive battle” for the city.
Since then, heavy clashes have been reported along the front lines between rebel- and regime-held areas.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North