This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, taken on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, purports to show anti-Assad protestors holding a Syrian revolutionary flag in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian rebels have begun a major operation in the Aleppo region, aiming to strike at security compounds and bases around Syria's largest city, activists said Friday. It would be evidence that weeks of intense bombardments by the Syrian military, including airstrikes, have failed to dislodge the rebels. Instead, fighting rages across the country in a civil war that shows no sign of ending soon.
BEIRUT — Syrian activists say raging firefights between government forces and rebels in the historic districts of central Aleppo have started a major fire in the city's medieval souks, or markets.
The covered souks, some of the Middle East's largest, were once a major tourist attraction.
Rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad launched Thursday an offensive to drive his forces out of Syria's largest city and commercial hub.
Aleppo-based activist Ahmad al-Halabi estimates the blaze destroyed a majority of the shops in the district overnight. He said some were still on fire.
The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights and other activists also reported Saturday that part of the souks were on fire. A video posted online showed smoke covering Aleppo, said to be a result of the bazaar fire.