Syria’s rebels unite to break Assad’s siege of Aleppo

The Guardian reports: A Syrian military academy in the heart of Aleppo made for a bold, even reckless target for opposition forces trying to break a devastating siege, but the rebels gambled on a double advantage: surprise and suicide bombers.

Soon the rebels were sharing pictures of abandoned artillery and a smashed portrait of President Bashar al-Assad on Twitter, flaunted as triumphant proof that the army was routed and opposition forces were within a few hundred metres of their besieged comrades.

Hours later, the people of east Aleppo were dancing in the street, as rebels and activists confirmed that the month-long siege of the area had been broken. The fate of the opposition-held city was back in play. “Morale is very high now,” said activist and poet Mahmoud Rashwani, who had been living largely underground to avoid airstrikes, eking out his supplies of canned food.

The victory is a fragile one. The area is still a conflict zone and it may be some time before a secure corridor for food and medical supplies can be set up, and the regime has called in reinforcements.

“We expect revenge bombing by the regime, including, possibly, chemical weapons,” said Zaher Sahloul, a Syrian-American doctor who coordinates medical aid in the city.

Still, for the rebels, it has been a remarkable triumph against the odds. After months of retreat under pressure from government forces and Russian airstrikes, they have not only broken the siege, but overrun a key base the regime had used to enforce it and apparently taken possession of a large cache of weapons and artillery. [Continue reading…]

Middle East Eye reports: Fighting on the southern edges of Aleppo continued into Sunday morning, hours after rebels said they had broken a three-week government siege of the Syrian city.

Rebels spearheading the push to seize control of Syria’s most populous city released a statement on Sunday morning confirming that the fight was ongoing and pledging to protect civilians.

“Anyone who heads to rebel-held areas will be safe, and we will continue to protect the lives of all Syrians, no matter what your affiliation or background,” the branch of the Free Syrian Army active in Aleppo said.

The alliance of rebels said late on Saturday that they had opened a new route into Aleppo’s eastern neighbourhoods, home to some 250,000 people.

But the road, which passes through southern edges of the city, remains too dangerous for civilians to use, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday. [Continue reading…]

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