World Bulletin / News Desk
A local rebel commander in Aleppo said rebels still control more than half of Syria's biggest city after a month of fighting and aerial bombardment, and that the military stalemate was playing into the hands of President Bashar al-Assad's opponents.
Assad sent reinforcements to the northern commercial hub in July to seize control back from rebel fighters who had swept into Aleppo from their rural strongholds, and authorities said the army's mission could be accomplished within days.
Using air power, artillery and ground forces, the army has pushed rebels back in strategic southwestern districts which form a gateway into Aleppo along the main highway from Damascus.
But despite their military superiority, Assad's forces have yet to press home their advantage across the city, and the military commander of the rebel Fatah Brigade in Aleppo said a lengthy conflict would give his fighters time to grow stronger.
"The main target of this phase (of fighting) is to win time," Major Anas Ibrahim Abu Zaid told Reuters by telephone.
"If we hold our ground and continue the attacks, the longer we do that (the more) the regime will lose on the international, regional and local fronts, and the position of the rebels will firm up and give us a chance to re-arm," he said.
The Fatah Brigade, one of the biggest rebel units fighting in the city of 2.5 million people, has 1,300 fighters in Aleppo and another 500 in the surrounding province, Abu Zaid said.
He said the rebel units were fighting in an arc of southwestern districts - Salaheddine, Saif al-Dawla, Amereya and Sheikh Saeed - which have seen some of the heaviest clashes and bombardment over the last several weeks, as well as two neighbourhoods in the north-east, Bustan al Basha and Midan.
Assad's air force was unable to target the rebels when they directly confronted ground troops, for fear of hitting their own soldiers, Abu Zaid said.
"We have six open fronts in the city and this is where the fighting is taking place," he said, adding that rebels held 60 percent of the city.
In practice, rebel control of urban areas is tenuous, as they are constantly vulnerable to artillery attack and air strikes from helicopter gunships and bombardment from jets firing rockets and dropping bombs.
In Damascus, the army took just a few days to clear rebels from central districts, though fierce fighting continued for weeks in outlying neighbourhoods and heavy clashes have raged in town surrounding the capital.
Many rebel units fight under the loose umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, although there is no real unified command. Abu Zaid said that on the ground, the fighters were cooperating.
"There is high coordination between the brigades. There are fronts that are the responsibility of a (single) brigade and other fronts that are shared," he said. "We call other brigades for help when needed."
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was implicated in mass protests against the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009
Clashes in several areas across Yemen on Friday killed 22 Shiite rebels and 11 members of pro-government forces, military officials said, after ...
Syrian opposition group claims 12 civilians killed when Russian jets dropped incendiary bombs in Aleppo
The ship, named Gamal Abdel Nasser, left the shipyard of Saint-Nazaire on France's Atlantic coast on June 12.
U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura hopes peace talks can resume in July, but has warned they cannot proceed “while hostilities are escalating and civilians are starving”.
Both men were simultaneously visiting the European Union’s main governmental headquarters to talk with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Turkey and U.S.-led coalition strike 34 ISIL targets in northern Syria, military says
Group will secure city, maintain safety of civilians, Central Command says
Agreement to be finalized Sunday; Israel security cabinet to approve deal next week, Israeli dailies report
“We offer our thanks to Turkey and its authority for its insistence that Israel lift its blockade of Gaza Strip,” Hamas political leader says
Turkish military also hits PKK extremists positions in northern Iraq
Striking Assad ‘stops short of a war against a sovereign nation that is being backed by Russia and Iran,' White House says
Israel deliberately denies Palestinians control over their water sources and sets the ground for water domination.
Fishman said that such a plan is supported by the Arab countries, including Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia and that Dahlan is ready to go back.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet to discuss ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts early next week in Rome with US Secretary of State John Kerry
Experts agree history, uncertainty not on side of memo authors