Fighting in Syria’s largest city of Aleppo stretched into its 11th day on Tuesday amid growing international condemnation of the Syrian government’s crackdown on a tenacious rebellion that has lasted 17 months.
Activists reported renewed bombardments of rebel-held neighborhoods and clashes in many parts of Aleppo as the army pushed on with its offensive to retake this key northern city. The battle for Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub with around 3 million inhabitants, has now lasted longer than the rebel assault on the capital Damascus that regime troops crushed earlier in July.
Despite regime claims of success and repeated forays by tanks and ground forces into rebel-controlled areas in the northeast and southwest of the city, the rebels appear to have held their ground, prompting government forces to resort to more shelling by artillery and mortars. Rebel positions are also being attacked with helicopter gunships.
Even as the fighting raged inside the city, rebel forces reported a number of victories in the surrounding countryside, including the town of al-Bab and a key army checkpoint at Anand. The capture of the checkpoint will ease the movement of fighters and supplies between Aleppo and the Turkish border, 30 miles (50 kilometers) away.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the rebel citadel of Sakhour in the northeast of Aleppo was being crushed and that state of conflict had erupted between rebels and government forces elsewhere in the city, particularly in Salaheddine in the southwest.
The Syrian government has supported its assail on Aleppo to the United Nations, identifying a city in the grip of “terrorist soldiers of fortune” funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which are keeping people hostage as human shields and committing “horrifying law-breakings.”
Saudi Arabi and Qatar have both showed a willingness to fund the insurrection and are thought to be sending money to rebels to buy weapons. On Tuesday, the official Saudi Press Agency stated a week-long national campaign to back up “our brothers in Syria” had accumulated $117 million dollars in cash contributions to outfit relief convoys for Syrian refugees.
United Nations. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has showed deep concern over the apply of heavy weapons by the government in suppressing the rebellion, particularly around Aleppo, calling on both sides to adhere to a ceasefire and the international organization’s widely disregarded peace plan.
On Sunday, the United Nations observer mission in Syria tasked with monitoring the never-observed ceasefire was shot at, according to Ban, who stated a 5 vehicle convoy of Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye was struck by small arms fire near the central city of Homs.
More than 2 million people have been affected by the fighting in a country of twenty-two million, told Ban, adding that “more fighting isn’t the answer.”
In Aleppo alone, the United Nations has estimated that 200,000 people have fled the fighting, either taking protection in nearby villages or making the trek to the refugee camps across the borderline in Turkey.