Early Saturday, the Syrian regime forces launched a fightback against Free Syrian Army fighters in Aleppo, opposition sources told Reuters news agency.
Regime forces backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, which had been massing for the past days, moved on southwestern districts of the commercial hub, where rebel fighters concentrated their forces when they seized much of the northern city on July 20, activists reported.
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported that regime helicopters had attacked the neighborhood of Salaheddine in Aleppo. Heavy fighting also took place at the entrance to the Sakhour neighborhood. In addition, violent clashes were also reported in the area of Hamdaniye (west).
"Helicopters are participating in clashes at the entrance of Salaheddine district and bombarding it," the group said in a statement.
On the night between Friday and Saturday, three rebel fighters were killed in the fighting in Aleppo. All in all on Friday, the violence left 160 dead across the country, said the NGO.
Elsewhere, clashes were also reported Saturday in Deraa, the cradle of the revolt in the south, in Homs and Hama.
Five rebels and four civilians were killed in and around Damascus, and one civilian died in Daraa, activists told Al Arabiya news.
According to Syria’s SANA news agency, a Syrian security source said that the rebels are holed up in very narrow lanes, making it difficult to battle.
However, this battle is extremely important for both parties. The regime is relying on its allies among the wealthy merchants of the city to finance part of its war effort, while the rebels wish to replicate the schema with the Libyan city of Benghazi in creating a protected area. According to many military experts, Assad's forces, because of their material superiority, are able to control urban areas, including Aleppo and Damascus, but could find themselves on the defensive in rural areas.
The battle is under way and its hard to predict the results. Aleppo is not like Damascus from the military side. I think the Free Syrian Army fighters understands Aleppo's military geography very well, whereas the reinforcements concentrate on the places near the Turkish-Syrian borders. We are hereby talking about a place which is 60 km from the Syrian border, many heights therein which makes it easy for the Free Syrian Army to hide. If Assad regime forces run a risk by fighting near the Turkish borders this might lead to military operations inside the Turkey, which will be obviously rejected by Turkey. Furthermore, Turkey might also take military actions so as to protect its borders. This was so clear in official Turkish declarations.