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Regime warplanes pound Aleppo as Syria rebels advance

ALEPPO, Syria--Syrian fighter jets and tanks pounded the northern city of Aleppo on Thursday, an AFP journalist said, as witnesses reported rebels advancing into the key contested central Midan district.

Columns of black smoke rose over the embattled city, scene of some of the country's heaviest violence since fighting erupted there on July 20.

Warplanes fired at several districts from high altitude in a bid to stay out of range of rebel weapons, he added.

Air strikes have sparked frequent condemnation from rights groups, as the rebel Free Syrian Army has intensified attempts to limit the effectiveness of the military's air power.

“After the regime started to resort more heavily to the use of fighter jets and helicopters, military airports and fighter jets became one of the FSA's strategic targets,” said Ahmed al-Khatib, FSA spokesman in Damascus province.

“The FSA has already succeeded in forcing planes to fly at a higher altitude — making their strikes less accurate — and to limit the number of flights from certain key airports,” he told AFP via Skype.

Rebels, meanwhile, advanced into at least one street of the Midan district, a resident said.

“They were at Bustan al-Basha (district) and had already advanced up to Suleyman al-Halabi Street. Now they have entered a street in Midan,” he added.

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