Syrian forces step up Aleppo offensive, control Damascus
Syrian government forces launched air and ground attacks on rebel-held areas in the city of Aleppo on Saturday and announced that the capital Damascus was back under government control, dpa reported.
"The Syrian army now has the whole capital under its control," a brigadier-general told journalists visiting the al-Tadamon neighbourhood in southern Damascus after heavy fighting with rebels.
"We have now cleansed all areas inside the capital Damascus from terrorists," said the army official, who only identified himself as the head of the military operation in al-Tadamon.
The information ministry had invited journalists in Damascus to accompany the officer into al-Tadamon after it came under total control of the regime forces earlier Saturday.
Fighting had erupted in Damascus on July 15 and spread for several days as rebels seized districts, forcing thousands of residents to flee for safety.
"The situation in Damascus is excellent and stable," the general said Saturday, adding that there were some few "terrorists who are still on the run, but we are after them."
In Aleppo, Syria's main commercial centre, rebels said government forces tried to enter the southern district of Salaheddine, a rebel stronghold, following bombardment by helicopters and artillery shelling.
"Fierce clashes took place between our fighters and the regime troops in Salaheddine. We have foiled their attempts to storm the district and seized at least three tanks from them," Abu Omar al-Halabi, a commander in the rebel Free Syrian Army, told dpa by phone.
Al-Halabi described the shelling as the heaviest since President Bashar al-Assad's troops launched an onslaught to flush out rebels from the northern city late last month.
He added that at least 10 rebels and dozens of government soldiers had been killed in the fighting.