July 26, 2012 in Nation/World

Battle rages in Aleppo

Syrian government sending reinforcements to city
Alexandra Sandels Los Angeles Times
Associated Press photo

A damaged Syrian military tank is seen at the border town of Azaz, some 20 miles north of Aleppo, Syria in this Tuesday photo.
(Full-size photo)

U.N. action sought

• Arab nations announced plans Wednesday to go to the U.N. General Assembly and seek approval of a resolution calling for a political transition and establishment of a democratic government in Syria following the Security Council’s failure to address the escalating crisis. Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi and Qatari diplomat Abdulrahman Al-Hamadi announced plans to seek action by the 193-member world body, where there are no vetoes, during a Security Council debate on the Middle East.

• Neighboring Turkey, fearing a spillover in violence, said Wednesday that it had closed its borders with Syria, at least to commercial traffic.

BEIRUT – Syrian authorities were sending reinforcements to strife-torn Aleppo, opposition activists said Wednesday, as outgunned rebels in the northern city tried to deliver a potentially decisive blow to the government of President Bashar Assad.

Street battles were ongoing in several neighborhoods, including districts close to the gates of the old city, with government forces shelling rebel-occupied quarters with artillery and helicopter gunships, the activists said. Many residents had fled or remained indoors in the city of 2 million, they said.

Parts of Aleppo are “a ghost city,” said one opposition activist in Aleppo reached via Skype. “The people are scared of going out in the streets,” noted the activist, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

Residents reportedly have shuttered shops, and gasoline and bread are in short supply.

Video by a BBC crew in Aleppo shows rebels setting up sniper positions in battered buildings, firing on helicopters with a machine gun mounted on a captured tank, and rounding up men, presumably suspected regime collaborators.

The Syrian government said its forces in Aleppo had killed scores of “terrorists,” the official term for the armed opposition. The state news service accused insurgents of assaulting citizens and attacking property in the al-Sakhour neighborhood, which also was reportedly under rebel control.

There was no definitive word on casualties. Rebel medics were treating wounded in makeshift clinics, which have sprung up in battle zones across Syria during the uprising.

Insurgents called the attack on Aleppo an all-out offensive that has galvanized rebels from throughout northern Syria.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email