Syrian Islamist insurgents launch battle to seize government-held Aleppo

AMMAN - Syrian insurgents led by Islamist groups began a major offensive to gain full control of the divided northern city of Aleppo, a monitor and rebels said on Thursday.
The fall of Syria's main commercial hub would be a major blow for President Bashar 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 areas held by a patchwork of armed groups.