Syria violence intensifies as rebels seek to break siege

Aug 03, 2016, 6:43 AM EDT
Destruction in Syria
(Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office/flickr)

Violence intensified around Aleppo as rebels launched a major offensive to break a government siege on the war-torn city on Wednesday. Amid heavy bombing from Russian jets, the rebels blew up a tunnel underneath army positions in the strategic Ramouseh district. A rebel fighter said that about 10,000 troops and at least 95 tanks were deployed on the ground with the aim to isolate the western half of Aleppo from government-held territory in the countryside.   

Aleppo residents face a deepening humanitarian crisis, with basic food completely disappearing from the markets, writes the BBC. Russian aircrafts are carrying out about 25 to 30 air strikes every day, forcing the people to stay inside their homes to avoid shelling.

In a separate development, a rescue service operating in rebel-held territory said that helicopters dropped barrels of chlorine gas on the town of Saraqeb near Aleppo, reports Al Jazeera. More than 30 civilians, including women and children, were taken to a local hospital after the chemical attack.

Rebels realize the importance of victory in Aleppo, which has “great symbolic significance,” notes The Guardian. Losing Aleppo would deal a fatal blow to the “revolution turned civil war,” depriving the rebels of any control in major urban centers, which are largely held by the regime.