Syrian troops, backed by air power and tanks, pushed on in the second straight day of an assault on the northern city of Aleppo trying to regain control of territory lost to rebels, with each side claiming victory.
The Syrian government announced late Sunday it had “purged” the district of Salahhedine and inflicted “great losses” upon the rebels — , according to AFP.
Rebels fighting government forces in Syria’s Aleppo “will definitely be defeated,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem .
Meanwhile, rebels have refuted this claim with activists on the ground in Aleppo confirming that the fighting was ongoing and no government forces were inside the neighborhood of Salaheddine, one of the first to revolt against the government in the city of 3 million, AFP reports.
Also Monday, Syrian rebels seized a strategic checkpoint northwest of Aleppo after a 10-hour battle, securing them free movement between the northern city and Turkey, rebel officer General Ferzat Abdel Nasser said, according to AFP.
The government have sent reinforcements outside Aleppo and began an assault over the weekend to retake Aleppo.
At least 200,000 residents of the country’s commercial capital have fled in the past two days and many more are still trapped, according to the United Nations.
The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) on Sunday accused the government of preparing to carry out “massacres” in the northern city and pleaded for heavy weapons to enable rebels to meet the regime onslaught.
Several neighbourhoods in Aleppo where rebels are active have come under heavy government shelling, leading to high casualties among both fighters and civilians.
The London-based Observatory said more than 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have now died since the uprising against Assad’s government erupted in March 2011.