Civilian areas of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo have been bombarded by both Islamist rebels and government forces loyal to President Bashar Al Assad, residents have told the media.
Ansar Al Sharia – a new coalition of Islamist forces including Jabhat al Nusra (Front), an Al-Qaeda affiliate, and Ahrar Al Sham – renewed a military campaign to seize Aleppo from Assad’s forces earlier this week.
So far, however, the Syrian army has managed to repel all attacks on Aleppo. But shelling is heavy in the city, its residents say.
Several districts of the ancient city have been leveled as control of Aleppo switched hands several times in the past five years of the civil war.
Camille Otrakji, a Syria observer and analyst, says that civilians often pay the price when either side tries to “liberate” parts of Aleppo not under its control.
“Both sides (the state’s regular army versus a coalition of Jihadists) feel the need to fully control presently divided Aleppo,” he said.
“Does this mean they are normally equal? Only in the fact that both end up killing civilians,” Otrakji told The BRICS Post.
The Syrian military says it killed at least 100 Islamist fighters trying to overrun its positions in Aleppo.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Ansar Al Sharia fighters fired over 400 mortar shells into government-controlled areas in Aleppo in the past 24 hours alone.
The UN says that more than 200,000 people, including armed parties, have been killed in the conflict, which has also left at least one million people injured.
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said that both the government’s forces and rebels are to blame for directly targeting civilians.
The brutality of the civil war has created one of the worst refugee crises in modern history – 6.5 million people have been forced to flee the conflict.
More than three million of those have escaped to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies