Thursday, August 09, 2012
Syrian Rebels Driven Out Of Key Frontline Aleppo District
Basher Assad's forces have driven the Syrian rebels out of a key position in the outlying areas of Aleppo, Syria's second largest city.
The Salaheddine district, a southern gateway into the city proper has been cleared of rebel troops, who were forced to retreat by coordinated attacks:
"We have retreated, get out of here," a lone rebel fighter yelled at Reuters journalists as they arrived on Wednesday in the Salaheddine district. A checkpoint that had been manned by rebel fighters for the last week had disappeared, its location marked only by an opposition flag.
Explosions could be heard as incoming gunfire hit buildings in the area. A Syrian government security source told Lebanon's Al-Manar television that Syrian forces were now in control of the Salaheddine district.
Helicopters flew over a police station that was still in rebel hands about 1 km (half a mile) away from Salaheddine. Fighters ran around in chaos shouting into walkie talkies: "The army has entered, the army has entered".
As my source noted earlier, it's business as usual in most of the city, with only a few outlying neighborhood the scene of heavy fighting. The rebels in the south have reportedly withdrawn to the Sukkari district ( south east of Salaheddine) where they're planning a stand against Assad's army.
Some shooting has been reported in a few outlying districts to the north of the city, but the main battle is in the south. That's where Aleppo will be won or lost. And with it, quite possibly the civil war.
In another setback for the rebels, their claim that they had killed a Russian general working for the Assad regime,one Vladimir Petrovich Kochyev proved to be false when the general himself contacted the media to show he was very much alive.