News / Middle East

    Shells Hit Key District of Syria's Aleppo, Civilians Flee

    A Syrian rights group says fighting between government and rebel forces has intensified in a strategic part of Aleppo, the country's commercial hub, with shells killing four civilians and forcing many others to flee.
     
    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the shelling hit the neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud on Sunday, as government troops tried to prevent rebels from taking the hilltop area. Control of Aleppo has been divided between the two sides for months, with neither able to defeat the other. 
     
    The Observatory says the shelling damaged homes and killed several children, sparking an exodus of residents. 
     
    An activist video posted on the Internet showed Syrian rebels also engaged in a gunbattle with government forces around Aleppo's international airport. The rebels have been leading a two-year revolt against the autocratic rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
     
    In other violence, the Syrian government and opposition traded blame for an apparent massacre of women and children in the western town of Talkalakh, near the border with Lebanon. 
     
    Syrian state news agency SANA said rebels killed 10 civilians who were found dead in the Burj district of the town on Sunday. The Observatory put the death toll at 11 and said pro-Assad fighters were responsible. 
     
    The rights group also said a car bomb exploded Sunday in Damascus province, killing five rebels. 
     
    SANA also reported that rebels set fire to three oil wells in the largely rebel-held eastern province of Deir el-Zour. It said the fires have resulted in the loss of thousands of barrels of oil. SANA said the oil wells were set ablaze in a dispute between rebels about sharing what it called "stolen" oil.
     
    Syria's east contains most of the country's oil reserves.

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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