Syria: Fresh fighting in Aleppo, Assad's sister Bushra flees to UAE -- reports


A Free Syria Army fighter yells 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Great) as he mans a position with his comrades only 50 meters away from a Syrian army post in the Old City of Aleppo September 16, 2012. More than 27,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule erupted in March last year, the Britain-based Observatory estimates. The United Nations puts the toll at 20,000.


Marco Longori

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.