Syrian rebels launch Aleppo offensive to break siege

The Islamic Front rebel coalition said the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham group launched rockets at a military airport in the east of the city and destroyed a government position in the west, the Associated Press reported.

Syrian rebels launched Grad rockets at Aleppo's Nairab air base on Friday, part of their preparations for a new offensive aimed at breaking the government siege of insurgent-held areas of the city, a rebel official and a monitoring group said.

The wide-scale attack on regime forces in Aleppo started on Friday morning, a Britain-based monitoring group said.

Rocket fire into Latakia killed at least one person and wounded six others, the Observatory and state media said.

The rebels aim to break a siege that government and allied militias imposed this summer with air support from the Russian air force.

"There is a general call-up for anyone who can bear arms", a senior official in the Levant Front rebel group, which fights under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner, told Reuters.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group that reports on the war, also said that insurgents had set off several suicide vehicle bombs on the western edge of Aleppo.

Hundreds of Grad rockets have been fired into regime-held West Aleppo and the city's airport with reports that a Russian airbase at Latakia was also targeted.

"Some 150 shells also rained down on areas controlled by the regime in western Aleppo", Rami Abdel-Rahman, the Observatory head, said.

The city has been divided since mid-2012, and the eastern rebel-held neighbourhoods have been under regime siege near-continuously since July 17.

Opposition forces briefly broke the siege in August, but no aid has entered the east since July.

The operation has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed infrastructure including hospitals, prompting global condemnation.

The assault and siege have prompted worldwide condemnation, with United Nations aid chief Stephen O'Brien earlier this week describing Aleppo as a "kill zone".



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