Syrian Rebels Renew Push in Damascus, Prepare for Regime Offensive in Aleppo
In a surprising turn, Damascus, which had been relatively peaceful over the last week, has apparently come under attack again by rebel forces.
And in the country's largest city and commercial hub of Aleppo, a large armored column of government troops prepared to roll into the city to dislodge fighters from key neighborhoods.
Fresh fighting has been reported around Syria's capital, Damascus, and in the northern city of Aleppo, where rebels are trying to secure their positions.
Most areas of Aleppo where rebels are entrenched have been bombarded by government forces and clashes have been reported in several districts.
The violence comes after a UN General Assembly vote to criticise the Security Council for failing to act on Syria.
In Damascus, fighting was reported in the Tadamon district on the southern edge of the city, which was earlier stormed by government forces.
Shooting and explosions were also heard in central parts of the capital, as well as in western areas, in and around Dumar.
Video footage posted by activists showed a military jet flying over what they said was the rebel-held quarter of Salah al-Din in Aleppo followed by a loud explosion.
Activists reported clashes in several areas, including around the officers' club and a security headquarters.
But the regime has yet to unleash a concerted offensive to drive rebels out of Aleppo. UN officials believe the government is building up its forces for just such a campaign to regain control of a city it cannot afford to lose, the BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon reports.
Rebels tried to take the government radio and TV building but were repulsed with heavy losses. It seems pretty clear that without heavy weapons, the rebels' offensives lack the punch to dislodge the Syrian army from their prepared positions.
But the kind of urban warfare they are fighting in Damascus and Aleppo don't require heavy weapons. The PR value to the resistance of attacking the cities in the first place is far more important than any progress they make in confronting the Syrian army. And President Assad plays into the hands of the opposition with his indiscriminate use of force on civilians.
With more than 200,000 refugees who have fled Aleppo, the humanitarian situation on the border with Turkey 70 miles away is becoming dire. UN officials are bracing for a huge new influx of homeless people who will need food, shelter, and especially water in the searing heat. The chances for a humanitarian disaster are high unless supplies can be rushed to the new camps being prepared.
It's not expected to get any better anytime soon.