A “large number” of regime forces have been moved from the northwestern province of Idlib to fight in Syria’s second city Aleppo in a bid to reclaim rebel-held areas, a rebel spokesman said.
“A large number of troops is being redeployed from Jabal al-Zawiya to Aleppo, which is strategically more important for the regime than Idlib,” the rebel Free Syrian Army’s Military Council spokesman in Aleppo told AFP via Skype.
The FSA’s Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Oqaidi said he believed the reinforcements were being sent because of the intensity of clashes in Aleppo, where several districts were “liberated” on Monday.
“There are clashes right now in Aleppo, so fierce that many of their troops are running away, while dozens of others are defecting on the spot,” said Oqaidi. “Their morale is very low.”
The same spokesman had announced earlier “the start of an operation aimed at liberating Aleppo from the blood-stained hands of Assad’s gangs,” referring to loyalists of President Bashar al-Assad.
A commercial hub and home to 2.5 million people, Aleppo recently became a new front in the country’s 16-month uprising, after being largely excluded from the violence.