The Syrian army continues its crackdown on opposition forces in Aleppo, the country’s industrial and financial center, Syria’s state TV reported on Tuesday.
Some observers view the battle for Aleppo as a major watershed in the Syrian conflict which could decide the future of the armed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
“Armed forces continue to hunt the remnants of terrorist groups in Aleppo’s Salaheddin district and inflict heavy losses on the enemy,” the TV report says.
Aleppo, a city of 2.5 million people, has remained the hotspot of Syria’s civil conflict since last week, when pro-government forces launched a massive assault on the city in a colossal push to regain control of key territories across the country. The Al-Watan newspaper proclaimed the fight for Aleppo 'the mother of all battles.'
Aleppo's southeastern district of Salaheddin remains the main bastion of opposition forces, mostly members of the Free Syrian Army.
Reports from the area have been controversial. Al-Watan, a privately owned newspaper with close ties to the authorities, reported on Tuesday that government forces regained control of the “rebel quarters” - Salaheddin, al-Sukkari and al-Sakhour - and are pushing to crush the opposition in several other neighborhoods.
Western media, however, quotes opposition sources as saying that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have unleashed artillery, tanks and helicopter gunships against Salaheddin after they failed to advance “even one meter” into the district.
Representatives of the Free Syrian Army claim they control about 60% of Aleppo, but an eyewitness refuted the report in a phone conversation with RIA Novosti.
“Militants of the Free Syrian Army have been surrounded by Syrian troops, who continue to pound on them,” an Aleppo resident told RIA Novosti on condition of anonymity.
Al-Watan said opposition forces in the city have been “literally under siege” by the pro-government troops.
“It [the siege] hinders the arrival of reinforcements from terrorists’ allies, such as Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, though hundreds of militants are currently on the border with Turkey, ready to set off,” the paper said.
Meanwhile, the situation in Damascus remains calm after the Syrian army regained control of the capital. Shops, markets, administrative and state-run bodies are open in central quarters.
The city, however, is experiencing an acute shortage of diesel fuel has affected public transportation in the city and its outskirts.
The situation remains tense in southern and eastern suburbs of Damascus as government forces continue anti-terrorism operations in the area.
The 17-month old conflict has already left between 14,000 and 17,000 people dead, according to estimates by Syrian activists. International diplomatic efforts have failed to force the conflicting sides to stop the bloodshed and begin talks.