Syrian rebels have remained defiant amid heavy shelling of Aleppo, vowing that the city will become a “graveyard” for pro-government forces.
The Syrian army pounded Aleppo for the second day on Sunday in what many foreign governments fear could become a massacre.
Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Oqaidi, the leader of rebel forces in the city, said that eight tanks and more than 100 troops loyal to President Bashar al Assad were killed on Sunday.
“Aleppo will be the graveyard of the tanks,” he told AFP.
After massing for two days, Syria’s army launched a ground and air offensive against Aleppo on Saturday.
Al-Oqaidi accused the Syrian government of attempting to carry out an attack similar in scale to Homs, the former rebel base which was leveled as the military bombarded it with shells over the winter.
“We expect them to commit a very great slaughter, and we urge the international community to intervene to prevent these crimes,” said al-Oqaidi. “We ask the West for a no-fly zone.”
World leaders condemned the violence on Friday. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the people of Aleppo were “threatened with a potential massacre.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier this month that 19,000 people have been killed since the violence began in the country 16 months ago.
July has been one of the deadliest months so far, with 2,750 killed by just mid-way through the month, the Observatory said. Fighting has taken place in government strongholds of both Damascus and Aleppo.
General Robert Mood, the former head of the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria, last Friday told Reuters that it was “only a matter of time” before the Syrian regime falls.
“Every time there are 15 people killed in a village, 500 additional sympathizers are mobilized, roughly 100 of whom are fighters,” he said.
Al-Oqaidi said that rebels would not withdraw from Aleppo like they had done in Damascus. “There is no strategic withdrawal of the Free Syrian Army. We await the attack,” he said in the AFP interview.
“We are positioned throughout the city and we have arms to defend ourselves against helicopters,” he added.
“We are ready to bring down this regime.”
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