Syrian rebels claimed on Thursday to have captured part of a fortress-like army position in the northern city of Aleppo after fierce fighting, which the army denied.
At least 18 soldiers and four rebels were killed in the fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The compound is located in the neighbourhood of Hanano, part or which was seized by the rebels in mid-summer, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. It acts both as a conscription centre and as a weapons storage depot.
Several Free Syrian Army brigades took part in the offensive, a rebel commander told an AFP journalist in Aleppo.
Abu Omar said the goal of the offensive was to liberate Hanano, cut strategic supply lines and put a stop to shelling that has caused high civilian casualties in Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub.
FSA media coordinator Abdullah Yasser said the assault aimed to take down one of three main positions used by the army to shell rebel-held areas, which are concentrated in the east of Aleppo.
“Hanano is one of the main places from which they are shooting, so taking it over could be a turning point for us,” he told AFP.
The FSA’s surprise attack came after a night of close-quarter fighting in the old city, AFP journalists at the scene said.
“They have been intensifying their attacks because no one in the international community has stepped up to defend the Syrian people,” Abu Omar charged.