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Aleppo Clashes: Syria Fighting Enters 4th Day

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By PAUL SCHEMM, The Associated Press

BEIRUT -- Fierce clashes flared for a fourth day Tuesday in Syria's commercial capital of Aleppo, showing the resilience of a rebel assault on regime targets.

President Barack Obama warned Syria against using its chemical weapons after Damascus acknowledged for the first time on Monday that they possessed such weapons and threatened to use them against any "foreign aggression."

The state news agency said regime forces fought with rebels in the Aleppo neighborhoods of Salaheddine and Sukkari and claimed they had inflicted heavy losses. The Britain-based Syria Observatory, meanwhile, reported heavy fighting after midnight in several other neighborhoods as well as shelling by regime forces.

Some areas also saw protests calling for the fall of the government early in the morning, the Observatory reported.

On Sunday, a newly formed alliance of rebel groups called the Brigade for Unification announced an operation to liberate Aleppo, the country's largest city with about three million people.

Reports from opposition activists indicate the fighting has been restricted to certain outer neighborhoods and hasn't reached the city center. Monday online video though showed rebels disabling at least two regime tanks.

Damascus, which saw an even fiercer rebel assault last week, appears to be largely in government hands once more as government troops scoured neighborhoods for the remnants of rebel fighters, the state news agency reported.

Syria warned the international community Monday that it had chemical weapons and would use them in the case of any international aggression. The regime said it would not use them against its own people.

There had been fears that the embattled regime would use chemical weapons as a final desperate measure against the 17-month old rebellion. But the promise not to use them against Syrians was not entirely reassuring because officials have long characterized the rebels as foreign terrorists.

In a speech before a veterans' association in Reno, Nevada, Obama warned Syria against their use.

"Given the regime's stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad and those around him that the world is watching, and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the United States, should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons," he said.

Syria has become increasingly isolated on the international stage, with just regional ally Iran in its corner, as well as Russia and China protecting it from condemnation by the U.N. Security Council.

Most of its neighbors, however, have become increasingly hostile, including regional powerhouse Turkey. At a political rally late Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan predicted the imminent end of the regime.

"This regime will go sooner or later. We believe that the people of Syria are ever closer to victory," he said.

Syrian rebel leaders operate on Turkish soil and arms for the opposition are believed to be entering the country from Turkey.

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lebanon Hussein Ali Omar, 60, one of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims that Syrian rebels have been holding for three months in Syria, hugs his mother, right, upon arrival at his house in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, 2012. Syrian rebels freed Omar on Saturday in a move aimed at easing cross-border tensions after a wave of abductions of Syrian citizens in Lebanon. The Shiite pilgrims were abducted May 22 after crossing into Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

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France24 correspondents Matthieu Mabin and Sofia Amara report from the front lines of a rebel offensive against the Syrian army in Damascus.

Watch the exclusive report in the video below.

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syria This image made from video and released by Shaam News Network and accessed Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, purports to show the funeral of children in Daraya, near Damascus, Syria. Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopters broke into a Damascus suburb on Thursday following two days of shelling and intense clashes as part of a widening offensive by President Bashar Assad's forces to seize control of parts of the capital and surrounding areas from rebel fighters, activists said. At least 15 people were killed in the offensive on Daraya, only a few miles (kilometers) southwest of Damascus. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network SNN via AP video)

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Clashes between Assad supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime killed two people in Lebanon on Friday, the Associated Press reports. 17 people were injured.

The AP gives more context:

Syria was in virtual control of its smaller neighbor for many years, posting tens of thousands of troops in Lebanon, before withdrawing under pressure in 2005. Even without soldiers on the ground, Syria remains influential, and its civil war has stirred longstanding tensions that have lain under Lebanon's surface.

Read more on HuffPost World.

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lebanon A Sunni gunman fires a gun during clashes that erupted between pro and anti-Syrian regime gunmen in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. The latest round of fighting first erupted on Monday in northern Lebanon and at least 15 have been killed in Tripoli this week and more than 100 have been wounded in fighting that is a spillover from Syria's civil war. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

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@ KenRoth : UN reports 200,000 #Syria refugees, 30,000 in past week alone. Many more internally displaced not counted.

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syria Syrian boy Musataf Alhafiz, 11, who fled his home with his family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, carries his brother Saif, 9 months, while he and others take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Thousands of Syrians who have been displaced by the country's civil war are struggling to find safe shelter while shelling and airstrikes by government forces continue. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

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Helicopter gunships shelled Damascus on Wednesday as Syrian security forces intensified their assault on the capital. Activists report that at least 47 people were killed.

"The whole of Damascus is shaking with the sound of shelling," a woman in the neighborhood of Kfar Souseh told Reuters.

Read more on HuffPost World.

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@ jenanmoussa : Graphic. We saw in a mosque in #Syria these 4 children staring at dead body. Pic by @HaraldDoornbos: #warsucks @akhbar

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lebanon Lebanese commandos ride in an armored personnel carrier in preparation to enter the area of clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. The civil war in Syria is affecting its fragile, tiny neighbor Lebanon in countless ways and has already spilled over into sectarian street clashes, kidnappings and general government paralysis.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

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Activists say that Syrian security forces swept through two districts in Damascus on Wednesday, killing at least 31 suspected opposition fighters. The Associated Press reports that the army may have been targeting rebel teams that had been using the Nahr Eishah and Kfar Soussa neighborhoods to shell a nearby military airport.

Read more on HuffPost World.

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@ AP : Russia says Western powers are "openly instigating" opposition groups in Syria: -SC

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