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Fierce clashes in Syria's Aleppo as fire engulfs souk - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In this image taken from video, a fire rages at a medieval souk in Aleppo, Syria.(AP)

In this image taken from video, a fire rages at a medieval souk in Aleppo, Syria.(AP)

ALEPPO, Syria, (AFP) — Troops shelled rebel positions in Aleppo on Sunday after a night of fierce fighting for control of Syria’s second city where a fire tore through a historic souk, monitors said.

In Damascus province, soldiers backed by aerial firepower stormed the rebel stronghold of Harasta as regime forces carried out arrest raids in the town of Zabadani, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Clashes were reported elsewhere in the northern province of Aleppo, where rebel mortar fire damaged two helicopters at the Al-Nairab military airport, said the group which relies on a network of activists on the ground.

The fighting was accompanied by intense overnight shelling that continued into the morning, destroying several houses and killing at least three people in Aleppo city, including two civilians and a rebel fighter, it said.

Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, has been the main battleground for the past two months of the country’s 18-month conflict, and has been gripped by fighting on an unprecedented scale in recent days.

Much of the fighting has centred in and around the Old City, and this is believed to have sparked the fire in the centuries-old souk which destroyed many shops, said an AFP correspondent and the Observatory.

Elsewhere, troops trying to dislodge rebels fired heavy artillery into areas of the southern province of Daraa, central region of Hama and Idlib in the country’s northwest, said the Observatory.

In the northeastern province of Hasakeh, the army fired on several houses, injuring several people, as security forces conducted arrest operations in the coastal city of Banias, it added.

Violence across Syria killed more than 118 people on Saturday — 48 civilians, 41 soldiers and 29 rebels, the Observatory said, adding to its toll of over 30,000 killed since an anti-regime uprising erupted in March 2011.

A boy carries toy guns in Al Qasseer city, near Homs. (R)

A boy carries toy guns in Al Qasseer city, near Homs. (R)

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Binsh near Idlib. (R)

Demonstrators protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Binsh near Idlib. (R)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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