Damascus: soldiers prepare to fire on crowd.
Damascus: soldiers prepare to fire on crowd.Screenshot / Ugarit News

Syrian Army regulars and opposition forces have begun to battle in earnest for control of the northern commercial hub city of Aleppo.

For weeks, President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces, as well as Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, and guerrilla fighters from the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization, have prepared for the assault on Aleppo, held largely by rebel forces.

Earlier this week, the assault was launched, with loyalist forces taking control of some of the northern city’s neighborhoods back from rebel fighters.

On Saturday, rebels renewed their efforts to tighten their grip on the city and retake regime-held neighborhoods in the country’s second-largest city.

In a statement posted on the Internet, the main opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) command announced the launch at dawn of “a battle to liberate several western districts” by “several revolutionary brigades and armed factions.”

As the battle raged in Aleppo, Syria’s army engaged in a fierce assault on rebel forces holding areas in northern and eastern Damascus, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

Fierce fighting has wracked the capital for the past four days, as an 11-member group of international leaders – the ‘Friends of Syria - begin meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha to discuss coordination of aid to the rebel forces.