Damascus, Aug 11 (IANS) Intense battles raged on Thursday in Syria’s Aleppo city, hours after government troops unleashed pre-emptive strikes on rebel positions in its countryside.
Fierce fighting continued between the Syrian army, backed by the Lebanese Hezbollah and Russian air cover, and the rebel’s Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as Al Nusra, in all areas in the southern countryside of Aleppo, Xinhua news agency quoted a source as saying on condition of anonymity.
Artillery and rocket shelling by the Syrian army on the positions of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham left the rebels in a state of “confusion”, the source added.
The Syrian army carried out a pre-emptive strike against a rebel position in the countryside of Aleppo on Wednesday, inflicting hefty losses among the opposition militants.
The source noted that the rebels were preparing to unleash an all-out offensive in Aleppo.
The air strikes targeted the gatherings of the rebels, killing “large numbers of them and destroying armoured vehicles outfitted with machine guns,” state run news agency Sana said.
Jabhat Fateh al-Sham announced on August 8 that the next phase of battles in Aleppo will be a wide-scale offensive to “liberate the entire city” from government forces.
The rebel group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or the Army of Conquest, an alliance of several rebel factions, was reportedly formed in March 2015 under the supervision and coordination of Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini.
The group seized most of Idlib province in northwestern Syria in 2015.
Aleppo is strategic for all warring parties due to its key location beside the Turkish border and role as Syria’s industrial capital.