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Fighting in Aleppo Sparks Major Exodus - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In this file photo, Syrian rebel fighter Tawfiq Hassan, 23, a former butcher, poses for a picture, after returning from fighting against Syrian army forces in Aleppo. (AP)

In this file photo, Syrian rebel fighter Tawfiq Hassan, 23, a former butcher, poses for a picture, after returning from fighting against Syrian army forces in Aleppo. (AP)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Fighting between Syrian rebels and forces loyal to embattled Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad has sparked a major exodus from the northern Aleppo district of Sheikh Maqsud, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.

The UK-based rights group told the AFP news agency that, “The Sheikh Maqsud neighborhood has seen a major exodus after shells hit the area, destroying several homes.”
Battles have been raging in the strategic, predominantly Kurdish neighborhood, since Friday, as regime troops try to prevent rebels from advancing into the district.

Sheikh Maqsud sits atop a hill, with vantage points over all of Aleppo. Its capture would be a key victory for the rebels, allowing them to target significant districts still in regime hands.

Also in Aleppo on Saturday, rebel forces killed a pro-regime Sunni cleric, with reports suggesting he was beheaded, and then dragged through the streets.

Sheikh Hassan Seifeddin, imam of a mosque in the neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud, “was killed overnight Friday by rebel fighters in the east of the area and his body was dragged through the streets,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported that Seifeddin was “assassinated by terrorists who mutilated his body afterwards,” while official television station Al-Ikhbariya said he had been “slaughtered” and beheaded.

“The ulema (clerics) of Aleppo denounce this despicable crime committed by the enemies of humanity who assassinated Sheikh Hassan Seifeddin and laid his head on the minaret of Al-Hassan mosque in Sheikh Maqsud,” the station reported.

More than 30 people have been killed in the neighborhood since the fighting began on Friday, according to the Observatory, which said 146 people were killed throughout Syria on Saturday.

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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