Aleppo suffers widespread damage as Syrian insurgents say they're stepping up a campaign to gain full control of the city. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Syrian insurgents said they had begun a campaign to capture full control of the divided city of Aleppo on Friday (June 19), Syria's most populous city before it becomes a main battleground in its four-year-old civil war. Video uploaded to social media purports to show a Sultan Murad fighter firing a missile at what said to be a heavy machine gun owned by the regime, located in the Bachkoy fighting front in Aleppo's northern countryside. Flames and dark smoke can be seen rising from a building in the video. Another video uploaded to social media appears to show the aftermath of an aerial bombing by the regime, which heavily damaged al-Qaterji neighbourhood in Aleppo. People were seen walking the streets amongst the rubble while the sound of an ambulance could be heard in the background. Neither side has been able to control Syria's main commercial hub since fighting erupted there in 2012, turning its UNESCO-listed historic centre into a ruin. The prospect of a rebel offensive in the city is a stark sign of the turn of momentum against President Bashar al-Assad's government, which has lost swathes of territory to fighters in recent months in the northwest, east and south of the country. Just four months ago it was the army and its allied militia that were launching a major bid to besiege rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo. Now, rebels are claiming the initiative. The city's fall would be a major blow for Assad, restricting his control mainly to a belt of territory stretching north from Damascus to the Mediterranean coast. This would deepen Syria's de facto partition between the Assad-run west and other areas held by a patchwork of armed groups.