Raging on

Smoke rises from Juret al-Shayah in Homs.

BEIRUT — Syrian troops fought rebels trying to seize central Aleppo today and quelled a jail mutiny on the outskirts of the northern city, killing 15 prisoners, opposition activists said.

After a week of bloody battles between President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and his opponents in Damascus, fighting intensified in Aleppo, a commercial city that long seemed immune to the 16-month-old upheaval convulsing Syria.

Rebels seeking to capture downtown Aleppo were combating Syrian troops and intelligence men at the gates of the Old City, a UN World Heritage site, residents and activists said.

The deaths in the prison mutiny were caused when Assad’s forces used machineguns and teargas on inmates overnight, activists in contact with surviving prisoners said.

Their accounts could not be verified independently due to Syrian restrictions on media access.

In Damascus, explosions and gunfire rocked the central district of Barzeh after government forces stormed in overnight, opposition activists said. Tanks prowled the streets of Midan, a neighbourhood recaptured by the army from rebels on Friday.

Several shells landed in the southern suburb of Hajar al-Aswad, where Assad’s forces have been trying to dislodge rebels.

Elsewhere residents buried their dead or ventured back to check on homes they had fled to escape the fighting. (Reuters)

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