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Syrian regime claims control of large Aleppo district

(AFP)
Filed on September 25, 2012
Syrian regime claims control of large Aleppo district

The Syrian regime on Tuesday announced it had retaken the large Arkoub district of Aleppo, the country’s second city, but a watchdog reported there was still fighting between troops and rebels in the area.

A military source told an AFP correspondent in the northern city of Aleppo that ‘army operations have been completed in Arkoub,’ a large eastern district in the northern metropolis.

‘Security forces are now conducting door-to-door raids in search of rebels,’ he added.

State media reported that ‘our armed forces have cleansed Arkoub district of terrorists,’ citing a military source.

Municipal maintenance teams ‘have entered Arkoub to rehabilitate the infrastructure destroyed by the terrorist mercenaries,’ SANA news agency said, using regime terminology for the rebels.

But the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes in Arkoub had not ceased.

‘There is still heavy fighting in the area. The army cannot claim control when there are still clashes,’ Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

In a video posted on the Internet on Tuesday by activists, the authenticity of which cannot be verified, gunfire and explosions can be heard in the area. It is not know when the footage was shot.

The AFP correspondent at the scene also heard sporadic machinegun fire coming from the area.

He found that army checkpoints had been set-up at three entrances to Arkoub and soldiers were preventing people from entering the area for fear of mines.

But the devastation of bombed out building facades and destroyed shops along the main street in Arkoub could be seen from the edge of the district.

‘I tried to enter this morning, but the army didn’t let me pass,’ one man told AFP on condition on anonymity. The 37-year-old said his shop was at the far end of Arkoub, adjacent to rebel-held district of Sakhur.

‘The shop is the only thing I own. If I return to find it destroyed, I think I’ll have to leave the country,’ he said.

Near Arkoub, fighting between the army and rebels continued, both the Observatory and state media said.

Since mid-July, the conflict has centred on Aleppo, where rebels of the Free Syrian Army say they control all of the axes around the northern metropolis, and that their only real worry is attacks from regime warplanes.


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