The Syrian army turned its forces on Aleppo on Wednesday, ordering an armoured column to advance on the country’s second biggest city and pounding rebel fighters with artillery and attack helicopters, opposition activists said.
As hostilities intensified near the Turkish border, Turkey said it was closing its crossing posts, although the UN said refugees fleeing Syria would be allowed through.
Two top Syrian diplomats, in the UAE and Cyprus, have deserted their posts, becoming the latest officials to abandon the Damascus government, rebels said.
The 16-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad has been transformed from an insurgency in remote provinces into a battle for control of the two main cities, Aleppo and capital Damascus, where fighting exploded last week.
In Aleppo, helicopters were seen firing missiles throughout Tuesday, residents said. Rebels were battling government forces by the gates of the historic old city. Troops fired mortars and shells at rebels armed with rifles and machine guns.
West’s military intervention likely
Western military intervention in the Syrian crisis is “looking increasingly likely” because the conflict is now in danger of provoking violence across the Arab world that could lead to cross-border invasions, a report has warned.
The study, by the Royal United Services Institute, finds fears that Assad’s regime may turn to chemical weapons, or that they may be stolen.
These concerns have intensified “the sense of imminent international conflict gripping the region”. (Guardian News Service)