Friday, June 14, 2013

Syrian rebels prepare for showdown in Aleppo

    Friday, June 14, 2013   No comments

From where he sits behind a ruined stone wall in Aleppo's old city, Abu Firas, a rebel gunner has had a clear view of his enemy for most of the past 11 months.

In the middle distance, ahead of the fist-sized hole through which he pokes his rifle, there usually isn't much to see. The Syrian army troops on this part of Aleppo's jagged front line dug in long ago. Abu Firas says he can sometimes see his foes scampering between positions, but he has never seen them advance.

"This week things changed," he says. "There was more of them than before and they were up to something. They looked urgent."

Across Aleppo, rebel groups who have held roughly 60% of Syria's biggest city since last July sense that something is about to break. Positions on the other side that had long been only defensive are now much busier. Rebels who could go for weeks with out seeing a regime soldier now say they are sighting them regularly.

Even scenes of battles past that have long been barren rubble-strewn wastelands mow seem to have come to life, rebel fighters in the city's southwest say. In Salahedin – the first district the opposition fighters entered when they stormed the city last July – men stationed nearby say they can hear the distant rumble of tanks and the crunching of boots on masonry and glass.

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