Syrian activists today said rebels have redoubled efforts to take control of Aleppo a day after they announced the launch of a "decisive battle" there, according to The Associated Press.
The northern city, Syria's second-largest, has been the scene of fierce fighting between rebels and government forces despite a brief stalemate recently, said AP.
Aleppo-based rebels announced today's clashes on their Facebook page, according to AP, and fighting in the city today has also been reported on state-run Syrian TV.
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Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's widowed older sister Bushra al-Assad is said to have fled to United Arab Emirates with her family, unnamed sources told Reuters late Thursday.
Her husband, the country's former defense minister, was killed in a high-profile bomb attack on top Syrian officials in Damascus in July.
Lebanese and Gulf officials confirmed that that Bushra and her five children had taken refuge in the Gulf nation, according to Reuters.
Violence in Syria over the past 18 months is believed to have taken more than 20,000 lives, and forced hundreds of thousands to flee the country in what has become a massive refugee crisis.
The international community has not succeeded in efforts to end the fighting, which began as an revolt against Assad's rule in the wake of the Arab Spring unrest.