World Bulletin / News Desk
Rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Aleppo said they were preparing a new attack on Friday and residents used a tenuous lull in the fighting to flee in cars crammed with possessions.
The rebels had been pushed back on Thursday by government forces seeking to reestablish control over Syria's largest city and its economic hub - a crucial arena in a struggle which the United Nations said would have no winner.
"I have about 60 men positioned strategically at the frontline and we are preparing a new attack today," said Abu Jamil, a rebel commander in Aleppo, where much of the fighting has raged in Saleheddine, a district on the city's southern approaches.
"One of my men is dead and inside Salaheddine. It's been two days and I haven't been able to get his body out because the sniper fire is so heavy," Abu Jamil said.
Reuters journalists saw residents streaming out of Aleppo, making the most of a calm spell to pack their vehicles with mattresses, fridges and toys and leave. At least two air force planes flew overhead.
Assad is fighting to crush a rebellion that aims to end his family's four decades in charge of Syria. A member of the country's Alawite minority, Assad is engaged in an all-consuming fight with mostly Sunni Muslim foes who Damascus says are backed by Sunni-led states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
Though sympathetic to the rebels, neither these countries nor Western powers have intervened militarily. Russia and China have blocked any U.N. Security Council action against Syria.
Iran called for "serious and inclusive" talks between the government and opposition at a meeting in Tehran on Thursday.
"There will be no winner in Syria," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement read by a U.N. representative to the conference.
"Now, we face the grim possibility of long-term civil war destroying Syria's rich tapestry of interwoven communities."
Diplomats said veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi could be named next week to replace the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, who quit in frustration at the deadlock among veto-wielding powers at the United Nations.
Assad's offensive in Aleppo follows a successful drive to expel rebels from parts of Damascus they had seized after a bomb blast killed four of his senior aides on July 18.
His grip on the country has been eroded and his authority was further shaken by his prime minister's defection this week.
Assad on Thursday appointed Wael al-Halki, a Sunni, to replace Riyad Hijab who had spent only two months in the job before making a dramatic escape across the border to Jordan.
But the Syrian leader appears determined to fight on.
Assad's forces have been using heavy artillery and air power to subdue rebel-held areas. Reuters journalists saw a fighter jet diving and firing rockets over Tel Rifaat, 35 km (20 miles) north of Aleppo on Thursday, causing villagers to flee in panic. But large areas of Syria have fallen out of Assad's control.
Aleppo has been pounded by artillery for days. A rebel commander said on Thursday that 250 people had been killed in recent days in the Salaheddine district.
But as yet, there has been no sign of the infantry advance required for Assad to take full control of the city.
Rebel commander Abu Furat al-Garabolsy told Reuters one reason could be faltering morale among Assad's troops, but said the military might also be delaying a full-scale ground assault to tire rebels with bombardment and deplete their ammunition.
A headmistress at a British high school has banned short skirts after male teachers were being distracted by the hemlines
Uganda will begin withdrawal when the East African force is ready for deployment
Tunisia has declared a state of emergency one week after the beach attack in Sousse
Iraqi jet have dropped leaflets over Mosul, telling the people that they will recapture Mosul and drive out ISIL.
Poland has further fuelled conflict between the two nations as a city took down the brotherhood-in-arms of Polish and Red Army soldiers memorial.
Eurotunnel services disrupted after points failure after 150 migrants try to enter restricted areas of Calais terminal
Iraq's Parliament speaker has urged the Iraqi government to provide secure return to displaced people
Despite the differences between the two countries, Russian-American relations must be based on equal treatment and mutual respect
Spanish police have arrested a Moroccan for distributing ISIL propaganda.
Fierce fighting breaks out between Libyan army, attached to the Government of Tobruk, and other armed groups in the east
Rallies around the country have marked the end of campaigning to approve or reject proposals from Greece's creditors
Germany had reformed its BfV following its failure to prevenet a series of Neo-Nazi murders.
Two people have been killed while walking past mud house in search of accommodation during Thursday night’s rainstorm
The Southern African Development Community have decided to send a team to the Kingdom of Lesotho to investigate the murder of a former military commander
According to IMF data, Greece is followed by Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Greek Cypriot administration and Belgium in a list of countries with high debts compared to their GDP
Canada granted permissions for foreign countries to interrogate their citizens after they were assured that they would not be subject to torture