News / Middle East

Syrian Rebels Bogged Down in Aleppo

Syrian Rebels Bogged Down in Aleppoi
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Scott Bobb
October 19, 2012
For months, rebels of the Free Syrian Army have been waging battles with government forces in parts of Syria's most populous city, Aleppo. The fight is largely at a stalemate with rebels kept at bay by government snipers and poundings by planes and helicopters. VOA's Scott Bobb was recently in Aleppo with rebel forces and has this report on their strategy.

Syrian Rebels Bogged Down in Aleppo

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Scott Bobb
— For months, rebels of the Free Syrian Army have been waging battles with government forces in parts of Syria's most populous city, Aleppo. The fight is largely at a stalemate with rebels kept at bay by government snipers and poundings by planes and helicopters.

In the divided Syrian city of Aleppo, rebels of the Free Syria Army are preparing a mission into the battle zone.

They hold a short planning session and then head out through a firefight along their street.

Inside the battle-scarred Old City, the frontline is constantly shifting. The rebels make advances, but often must retreat under government aerial bombardments against which they have no strong defense.

There are snipers on this street. The rebels rig a mirror to see around the corner. One throws a homemade grenade at the snipers drawing a quick response.

The fighters are retrieving the bodies of a family that was killed when a mortar hit their kitchen gas canister. Three children and their aunt died. The mother was wounded. The father died of a heart attack when he saw them.

Photo Gallery: Latest Images from Syria

  • Smoke rises from behind buildings after a shelling at Karm al-Jabal in northeast Aleppo, Syria, October 19, 2012.
  • Demonstrators hold opposition flags and banners during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Houla near Homs October 19, 2012.
  • Smoke, caused by mortar bombs and gunfire during clashes between the Syrian Army and rebels, rises from the Syrian border town of Haram as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border near the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province October 19, 2012.
  • Destroyed houses, the result of shelling by Syrian government forces, in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs province, Syria, October 18, 2012.
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army holds up a poster of Hafez al-Assad, the father of current President Bashar al-Assad whose defaced picture hangs on a garbage bin in Aleppo, October, 17, 2012.
  • A family in a pick-up truck flees violence in the city of Aleppo October 17, 2012.
  • Syrians rescue people from under the rubble of a destroyed building that was attacked by a Syrian force airstrike, at Kfar Nebel town, in Idlib province, Syria, October 17, 2012.
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army patrols through the alleys of the old part of Aleppo, October 16, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army and residents carry the body of Ammar Ibrahim Reslan, whom activists said was killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, near Idlib, October 16, 2012.
  • Syrian women work on their field in the village of Tarafat, Syria, October 14, 2012. The Aleppo rebellion started off in the rural areas of Aleppo province, not in the city as was the case in most other parts of Syria.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters are seen on the front line in Aleppo's Bustan Al-Basha district in Syria, October 15, 2012.
  • The Armenian plane that was forced to land at Erzurum Airport, eastern Turkey, October 15, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters in a storage room in the Karmal Jabl district of Aleppo Syria, October 14, 2012. Rolls of fabric are seen on the ground.

Abu Ahmed (not his real name) says the bodies have lain here for nearly two weeks. The rebels could not reach them because of the fighting.

"Just come and see, in the name of God, this is a humanitarian crisis," said Ahmed.  "The people are dying in front of us, and we can't do anything. Every day there is one, or two or ten cases like this."

It is an emotional moment, but still dangerous. To avoid the snipers they pass through apartment after apartment, using makeshift tunnels.

With citizens being wounded by the day across Aleppo, there appears little sign of ending the battles that have erupted over the last four months. Residents can only hope for an interlude as international efforts for a cease-fire continue.

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