Aleppo's streets are empty. More than a year of fighting has left the Syrian city in rubble, its houses destroyed, its shops abandoned. Thousands have fled as men, women, and children alike have lost their lives.
Ian Pannell traveled to Syria's north for the BBC and came back with breathtaking footage of a city at war. "Parts of this once grand city have been eviscerated," he says.
Pannell followed a group of Syrian rebels as they advanced towards Aleppo's airport, one of the major targets of the insurgents in the region. As a fighter explained, "Controlling the airport means wiping out the Syrian army in Aleppo. It could deal a fatal blow to their moral and would be a major boost for us, as well as giving us a great military asset."
Rebels captured Aleppo air base on Feb. 12 in what Reuters described as a major setback for the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad.
The airport is the latest military facility to fall under rebel control in a strategic region situated between Syria's industrial and commercial centre and the country's oil- and wheat- producing heartland to the east.
On Wednesday, activists claimed that a large missile struck Aleppo's north on Wednesday, leaving at least 25 people dead. Reuters reported that survivors dug up bodies from out of the rubble. "Some, including children, have died in hospitals," activist Mohammad Nour told the news service.
The UN estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria's two-year conflict.
Watch Ian Pannell's full report on the BBC's website.
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Captions by the Associated Press