Syrian troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad clashed with rebels in the commercial hub of Aleppo as the insurgents started what they called a “decisive battle” to take over the nation’s largest city.
The main insurgent force in the northern city of 3 million people, the Tawheed Brigade, said on its Facebook page that its fighters entered the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood. Syria’s state- run TV said four civilians, including two children, were killed today by rebel mortar rounds. Government forces killed large numbers of “terrorists” in several neighborhoods, it said.
Syrian rebels have been fighting to overthrow Assad since March last year in a conflict that has left at least 30,000 people dead, according to estimates by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group.
Syrian TV also reported fighting on the outskirts of Damascus. The U.K.-based observatory said government forces stormed several suburbs of the capital, destroying homes and arresting civilians.
At least 81 people have been killed in Syria today, including 46 in Aleppo, according to the Local Coordination Committees in Syria.
The United Nations Human Rights Council today approved extending the mission of its independent commission of inquiry. An EU statement called on Syrian authorities to “immediately put an end to the violence and condemned in the strongest terms the gross human-rights violations by the Syrian authorities which may amount to crimes against humanity.”
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