The Syrian army launched a massive assault on rebels in Aleppo on Saturday amid growing world concern about the risks of reprisals against the civilian population of the country’s second city.
Troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, which had been massing for the past two days, moved on southwestern districts of the commercial hub, where rebel fighters concentrated their forces when they seized much of the northern city on July 20.
Artillery pounded Salaheddin and other rebel neighbourhoods from 8 am (0500 GMT) as ground troops advanced, an AFP correspondent reported.
Trapped civilians crowded into basements, seeking refuge from the intense bombardment.
“The fiercest clashes of the uprising are taking place in several neighbourhoods of the city,” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.