ALEPPO: Fighting raged in Syria's second city on Thursday as troops and rebels prepared for a head-on confrontation and pro-regime media warned of a looming “mother of all battles.” A security source said the army was preparing for an all-out assault as clashes also shook parts of Damascus and other areas, with at least 114 people reported killed on Thursday — 61 civilians, 32 regime troops and 21 rebels.
“The special forces were deployed on Wednesday and Thursday on the edges of the city, and more troops have arrived to take part in a generalised counter-offensive on Friday or Saturday,” the security source said of Aleppo.
Rebels also brought in reinforcements, with the source estimating that between 1,500 and 2,000 opposition fighters had arrived from outside Syria's most populous city to reinforce some 2,000 already fighting inside Aleppo.
“They are mainly present in the southern and eastern suburbs of the city, mainly Salaheddin and nearby districts,” he said.
The airport is currently cut off from the city, as four of the five roads leading to it are under rebel control, he added.
Rebels also said a regime assault appeared imminent.
“The army's reinforcements have arrived in Aleppo,” Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), said.
“We expect a major offensive at any time, specifically on areas across the southern belt, from east to west.” Okaidi added that some 100 tanks and a large number of military vehicles had arrived in Aleppo, the country's commercial hub.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that regime forces pounded the Salaheddin neighbourhood in the south and Jazamati in the east.
On July 20 the rebels launched an all-out assault to overrun Aleppo a move analysts say is aimed at establishing a bastion close to the rebel military headquarters in neighbouring Turkey.—AFP