Syrian President Bashar Assad delivers a speech in Damascus, Syria.
BEIRUT (AP) - Bashar Assad's regime is trying to regain control of Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub and largest city. And it's using artillery, tanks and attack helicopters to do it.
The government offensive comes a week after rebels seized several neighborhoods. Aleppo-based activist Mohammed Saeed says rebels are trying to repel the government counterattack back and, so far, have held their positions. He says about 1,000 fighters from the main rebel group the Free Syrian Army have come from outside the province to help.
State television reports that government forces had inflicted heavy losses on what it describes as groups of terrorists. A pro-government newspaper calls it "the mother of all battles."
Even Syria's longtime ally, Russia, says a "tragedy" may be imminent in Aleppo. But Russia's foreign minister also says it's unrealistic to expect the Syrian army to stand by while rebels were trying to take over major cities.
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande is calling on Russia and China to consider the chaos that will ensue if the U.N. Security Council is unable to act on Syria soon.
So far, Russia and China have vetoed the Council's efforts to ramp up pressure on Assad.
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