- Middle East/North Africa
Syria's rebels have seized a key district in the embattled northern city of Aleppo, a resident and activists told AFP on Saturday, as troops again bombarded areas south of Damascus.
"Rebel fighters seized total control of Sheikh Said in southern Aleppo, after troops exhausted by 48 hours of fighting withdrew from the district," one resident of the area said on condition of anonymity.
"Most neighborhood residents fled the area after rebels took control."
The takeover was a strategic victory for the rebels, as it secured a key route linking Syria's second city to its international airport.
Activists said the takeover also severed regime forces' access to a military airfield.
"Rebel fighters have seized Sheikh Said, which was the last land route linking Nayrab airport to the city," the anti-regime Aleppo Media Centre said.
According to the AMC's Abu Hisham, the battle for Aleppo's airports has become a key rebel objective.
Violence exploded in the city on 20 July, when the army launched an all-out bid to prevent a rebel onslaught on what was once the country's commercial hub.
South of Damascus, meanwhile, the army pounded the rebel enclave of Moadamiyet al-Sham on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, in a renewed effort to suppress the insurgency on the capital's doorstep.
More than 60,000 people have died in Syria's 22-month war, according to UN figures.