Clashes in Syria's Aleppo

 Heavy clashes between troops and rebels raged into a second day in Syria’s second city Aleppo on Saturday, activists said, while a tense calm reigned in Damascus after days of fierce fighting.

The fighting in Aleppo came a day after the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to grant a “final” 30-day mandate extension to a troubled observer mission charged with overseeing a peace plan for Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in Aleppo “battles have been ongoing since Friday morning between regular forces and fighters from rebel units in the Salaheddin neighbourhood.”

The Local Coordination Committees — a grassroots activist network — reported “an exodus of residents of the neighbourhood because of fear of regime bombardment and an offensive” against Salaheddin.

The fighting is the worst yet in the northern commercial hub, which had been largely spared from the protests and violence that have accompanied the country’s 16-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

On Friday, activists said regime forces had opened fire on demonstrators in the city, killing at least one person.

In Damascus, a day after regime troops launched a major counter-offensive to retake rebel-held areas, residents reported the city was largely calm.

But the Observatory said regime forces had bombarded the Al-Kaddam and Assali neighbourhoods on the southern outskirts overnight, and residents reported fighting in the Al-Hajar Al-Aswad and Tadamon districts.

A resident of the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, on the outskirts of the capital, said he had not left since Wednesday. “It’s dangerous to leave the camp because there are snipers posted at the entrance and they shoot at any gathering.”

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