Syrian rebels brace for showdown in Aleppo

Leaders of Syrian rebel forces ordered their fighters
to attack hundreds of government troops heading
toward Aleppo, the country's largest city, a Free
Syrian Army official told CNN on Wednesday.
The Syrian regime withdrew about 2,000 fully
equipped troops, along with their tanks and artillery,
from Idlib and sent them to Aleppo, the official said.
As the commercial hub of Syria, Aleppo is a crucial
city in the country's 16-month conflict. If rebels
eventually gain control of the city it would mark a
pivotal point in the Syrian crisis and deal a heavy
blow to President Bashar al-Assad's financial ties.
Read more: Is there a plan for a post-Assad Syria?
Across Syria, at least 50 people were killed in fresh
violence Wednesday, opposition activists said. The
dead included six people in Aleppo and six children,
the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.
Rebel forces have been trying to wrest control of
Aleppo from government forces.
"There is random shelling of the eastern portion of
the city as the Syrian Army is trying to force out the
FSA (Free Syrian Army). They are hitting civilian
homes over and over," one activist told CNN via
Skype on Tuesday.
CNN's Ivan Watson, who is inside Syria, said he had
noticed the rebels had become better armed in the
past few months. While they only had shotguns at
one point, they now have rocket-propelled grenades
and assault rifles, he said.
The increased firepower has helped the rebels
successfully attack armored vehicles and force
some Syrian forces to resupply by helicopter.
Watson said that in the village he was in, hundreds
of rebels had loaded up with ammunition this week
and headed to fight in Aleppo.

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