Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images.
The stage is set for another major showdown between opposition and Syrian forces this week as troops amassed near the city of Aleppo on Thursday.
The Syrian military is expected to launch a major counter-offensive on the rebel-held districts of the city on Friday or Saturday. Rebels have also bulked up their presence in Aleppo in anticipation of the attack.
As the Associated Press reports, the Syrian military has already started using heavier firepower, shelling some Aleppo neighborhoods on Wednesday and Thursday. It's now the sixth day of intense clashes in Aleppo as opposition forces attempt to seize control of the city.
Fighting continues in the county's capital city of Damascus as well, the Guardian reports. Rebels have regrouped in the southern Hajar Aswad district as Syrian troops try to regain control of the metropolis. Fighting was severe enough there for Greece and Brazil to close their embassies. According to the Guardian, Brazil's ambassador to Syria was quoted as saying "you simply cannot step outside there is so much shooting going on."
Aleppo and Damascus are the two largest cities in Syria.
Meanwhile, some U.S. officials apparently are trying to place Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, one of the highest-ranking officials to defect from President Bashar al-Assad's regime, in charge of an as of now still hypothetical transitional process for the country, the Wall Street Journal reports.
No word on whether the actual opposition leaders would accept Tlass, who defected earlier in July, about 16 months after unrest in the country began. But as fighting intensifies in the commercial and governmental centers of the country and the U.N. mission to Syria essentially loses what teeth it had as its observer mission winds down, talk of a stopgap plan for transitional power has a certain urgency to it. The Syrian National Council is meeting on Thursday in Qatar to discuss such a plan, though its unclear how much the disparate groups of rebel factions will agree on, as the Associated Press notes.