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Syria army preparing for Aleppo battle: Security source

Syrian regime prepare major offensive to drive rebels out of Aleppo; battle to begin in a matter of 'hours or days'

AFP , Sunday 9 Jun 2013
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Syria's army is preparing to launch an assault on Aleppo aimed at driving rebels out of the northern city and surrounding province, a Syrian security source told AFP on Sunday.

The announcement comes five days after the army and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah seized Qusayr in central-west Syria, a year after the strategic region had fallen into rebel hands.

"It is likely the battle for Aleppo will start in the coming hours or days, and its aim is to reclaim the towns and villages (under rebel control) in the province," the source said on condition of anonymity.

"The Syrian Arab army is ready to carry out its mission in this province," the source said, without giving further details.

Analysts say that its success in Qusayr has given the army the confidence to try to suppress the insurgency elsewhere in the strife-torn country.

Pro-regime daily Al-Watan said Sunday the army has "started to deploy at a large scale in Aleppo province, in preparation for a battle that will be fought in the city and its outskirts".

Rebels in July last year launched a massive assault on Aleppo, once Syria's commercial hub. The city has suffered daily regime bombardment and clashes pitting insurgents against troops.

Al-Watan also said "the Syrian army will take advantage of its experience in Qusayr and Eastern Ghouta (near Damascus) to advance in the (central) province of Hama and Homs" nearby.

"The consequences of the battle for Qusayr will... map out the contours of Syria's political future," the daily added.

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