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Rebel assault on Aleppo slows as UN slams civilian deaths

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebel rocket fire since Friday has killed 48 civilians, including 17 children.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

A REBEL ASSAULT to break the siege of Aleppo slowed today amid fierce resistance from regime forces, as the UN said it was “appalled” by civilian deaths.

Rebels launched a major assault on Friday, backed by car bombs and salvos of rockets, to break through government lines and reach the 250,000 people besieged in the city’s east.

Aleppo has been hit by some of the worst violence in Syria’s five-year conflict, turning the once-bustling economic hub into a divided and bombed-out symbol of the brutal war.

Since Friday, opposition factions allied with jihadists have amassed on Aleppo’s western outskirts in a bid to end the regime’s three-month encirclement of the city’s eastern districts.

Mideast Syria Aleppo Voices Destruction in Aleppo. Source: Manu Brabo/PA

While they scored an initial advance, the offensive has since slowed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.

“Since Sunday, the regime has been taking the initiative and the clashes are less intense,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said on this afternoon.

Regime

“The only thing that has been accomplished is partial control over Dahiyet al-Assad,” a neighbourhood on Aleppo’s western outskirts that rebels entered on Friday, he said.

Regime and Russian air strikes were hitting the battlefronts on the city’s edges, but with less intensity than in previous days.

“The momentum of the rebel offensive slowed after failing to take control of the ’3000’ apartment block and the military complex,” a pro-regime military source said, referring to two built-up areas southwest of Aleppo.

Civilian toll rises

In a new toll on this afternoon, the Observatory said a total of 61 regime fighters and allied militiamen were killed in the assault, as well as 72 Syrian rebels.

Heavy rebel rocket fire since Friday has killed 48 civilians, including 17 children, the monitor said.

Syria’s state news agency SANA said three civilians were killed in rebel fire today.

In a statement, the army gave a toll of 84 people killed in three days, “mostly women and children,” repeating allegations that rebels had fired shells containing chlorine gas on western Aleppo.

UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Sunday he was “appalled and shocked by the high number of rockets” fired by rebels.

“Those who argue that this is meant to relieve the siege of eastern Aleppo should be reminded that nothing justifies the use of disproportionate and indiscriminate weapons, including heavy ones, on civilian areas and it could amount to war crimes,” he said.

“Civilians of both sides of Aleppo have suffered enough due to futile but lethal attempts of subduing the city,” he added.

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