Syria rebels say launch "decisive battle" in Aleppo
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels said on Thursday they had launched their most coordinated attack in the country's biggest city Aleppo, promising a "decisive battle" to push out forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Insurgents from various brigades in Aleppo, embattled for two months, said "zero hour" had been announced by calls of Allahu Akbar ("God is greatest") from mosques.
"The zero hour has started on all fronts in Aleppo city. All rebels and brigades are taking part," said Abu Firas, spokesman for the Tawheed Brigade, the biggest rebel force in the city.
A rebel from another brigade echoed the news, and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said hundreds of insurgents were taking part in heavy fighting.
It was not possible to verify the rebel accounts. Syrian state television had several news breaks referring to battles in Aleppo and the countryside, saying Syrian soldiers were inflicting damage on the "terrorists".
Rebel fighters told Reuters that clashes erupted on several fronts on the edges of rebel-controlled areas in the northern and southern sides of the city.
A video posted on YouTube by rebels showed a Tawheed commander carrying a walkie talkie announcing the start of the fight and giving orders to at least 50 fighters armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles.
"Now the attack on Assad's forces has started on all fronts and God willing today will be decisive in Aleppo. But stay steadfast and be honest to God," he told the fighters. "Those who surrender, we do not kill them. We do not kill prisoners."
Another fighter told Reuters by telephone from the city: "Aleppo will be set alight today."
(Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
- U.S. Mega Millions lottery up to $400 million, 2nd-biggest ever
- Uruguay becomes first country to legalize marijuana trade
- Pope Francis named Time's Person of the Year
- Thousands of South Africans line up to see Mandela lie in state |
- China bitcoin arbitrage ends as traders work around capital controls
Time magazine named Pope Francis as its Person of the Year, crediting him with shifting the message of the Catholic Church. Slideshow