Syrian Rebels Close In on Aleppo

    Syrian rebels raise their weapons under a pre-Baath Syrian flag currently used by the opposition during an anti-regime protest in the northern city of Aleppo on March 22, 2013. The UN lamented the escalating violence in Syria and extended a probe into widespread human rights violations in the war-torn country. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC        (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

    Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty

    The Syrian rebels on Saturday stormed a strategic neighborhood in Aleppo, one of the key battlegrounds in the country’s civil war. After days of heavy clashes that included the killing of a pro-government cleric, the rebels had seized control of a hilltop that overlooks most of the city, state media and government activists said on Saturday. The accounts of what happened as well as the death toll varied between the state-run media and the activists. A Sunni Muslim cleric was killed in the fighting, with Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saying his body was paraded around the town. Syrian state-run media said the cleric had been beheaded, with his head placed on the minart of the Al-Hassan Mosque, where he led the prayers. State media also said rebels had set three oil wells on fire, disrupting production.

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