Aleppo in ruins as rebels keep tenuous hold
Aleppo, the historic Syrian city on Unesco's world heritage list, is a field of ruins with at least half of its residents having fled three months of fighting between rebels and the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, reports RFI's Jérôme Bastion, who sends this photoreport from the frontlines.
Reporters who want to gain access to the wartorn town have to be accepted by one of the rebel units, katiba, that relieve their comrades fighting in Aleppo.
The units, which rest in surrounding towns and villages and are rotated every week, are part of brigades of several thousand fighters. The Liwa al-Tawhid brigade controls the liberated area around Aleppo in northern Syria.
The rebels control at least half the town, but their hold is tenuous, due to the superior firepower, and especially air power, of Assad's forces, Bastion reports.
While the insurgents control most of the centre, the residential districts on the outskirts of Aleppo are either pro-Assad as neutral, as are the Kurdish areas.
Most shops are closed, with small markets spontaneously springing up from time to time, and water and power are often cut off.
At least half of the city's population, especially that of the centre, has fled the fighting with those left behind risking their lives for basic necessities, dodging bombs and bullets just to buy bread.
On RFI (French): Syrie - au cœur de la guerre à Alep, ville fantôme en ruines