Syria army readies assault on Aleppo: security source

AFP , Thursday 26 Jul 2012

Free Syrian Army expects Aleppo major offensive 'at any time' as it becomes clear both rebels and government extensively mobilized forces to battle for Syria's second city

Syrian troops prepared on Thursday to launch an offensive on rebel-held districts across the northern city of Aleppo, a security source told AFP.

"The special forces were deployed on Wednesday and Thursday on the edges of the city, and more troops have arrived to take part in a generalised counter-offensive on Friday or Saturday," a source close to the Syrian security apparatus said.

The source said rebel fighters had brought in their own reinforcements, estimating between 1,500 and 2,000 opposition fighters had arrived from outside Syria's largest city to reinforce some 2,000 already fighting in Aleppo.

"They are mainly present in the southern and eastern suburbs of the city, mainly Salaheddin and nearby districts," the security source said.

The airport is currently cut off from the city, as four of the five roads leading to it are under rebel control, the source added.

Rebels also said a regime assault appeared imminent.

"The army's reinforcements have arrived in Aleppo," Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, told AFP via Skype.

"We expect a major offensive at any time, specifically on areas across the southern belt, from east to west."

Okaidi added that some 100 army tanks -- as well as a large number of military vehicles -- had arrived in Aleppo.

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