Incredible photographs show the horrifying  moment a government tank blast killed three rebel fighters in the battered  Syrian city of Aleppo.

The series of haunting images tell a tragic  tale, first showing a calm street scene, then the terrifying moment the tank  fire lands, followed by the chaotic aftermath of the hit.

The powerful photographs, which shine a harsh  light on the brutality of daily lives for Syrians under President Bashar Assad’s  regime, were captured by Tracey Shelton, a correspondent for the GlobalPost

Shelton wrote  about her experience of getting the photographs, explaining how she spent time  camping with members of the Noor Den al-Zenke battalion who man a block of  streets which now form the final battle line between government troops and  opposition forces.

Preparation: Syrian rebels in the city of Aleppo manning a checkpoint grab their weapons in readiness, just seconds before their position is targeted by an army tank
Moment they died: The photographer captures the split second the tank shell hit the check-point killing three men as it detonates
No time to move: The soldier in the foreground remains rooted to the spot as his three comrades are obliterated by the blast
Survivor: This man was the only person who managed to escape, running away from the smoke-filled scene

She described  how on the morning of the attack, the men were relaxed and joked around as they  cleared up the area after a tank attack from the previous  day.

During that  attack, the tank had fired too short, she explained. But this time, the assault  took the men by surprise and killed three men.

Shelton  describes in heart-rendering detail how they ran back from the clouds of smoke  and waited for others to escape through the debris.

‘As the cloud of smoke engulfed the street we  ran back and frantically waited for the others to escape through the cloud of  smoke and debris. But no one came. In that split second, three men were reduced  to broken, bleeding masses,’ she writes.  

The harrowing photos come as  the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that  more than 26,000 people have been killed in the country since the revolt began  in March last year – more than two-thirds of them civilians.

It has been another deadly week for Aleppo  residents with government forces launching a devastating air strike on Monday.  

Local residents say the attack was launched  by Syrian government forces onto a densely populated area of the city and that  further assaults followed. It is believed that in one of the deadly  attacks this week, seven children were killed.

Rebels scored a major victory late Friday  when they seized part of the Hanano barracks, one of the army’s largest posts in  the area, activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said  rebels were able to reach the edge of the barracks, which house more 2,000 than  soldiers including many reinforcements brought from other parts of  Syria.

Aleppo activist Mohammed Saeed said rebels  also were able to free scores of detainees from the sprawling barracks, which is  close to the city center.

Haunting: Having survived the deadly blast, the soldier checks his injuries
Devastation: Three men died in this particular attack; the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that more than 26,000 people have been killed in the country since the revolt began in March last year
Before the hit: Issa Aiash, 30, father of three, left, his 17-year-old brother Ahmed, centre, and Sheihk Mamoud, 42, father of a newborn son, laugh and joke as they clean their post Saturday, explains photographer Tracey Shelton

Rebels also attacked a main army checkpoint  linking Aleppo with Turkey, where many Syrians have taken refuge from the  fighting. The Observatory said six rebels were killed in the attack.

The Observatory and another activist  group  known as the Local Coordination Committees also reported fresh  clashes in the  Damascus neighborhood of Tadamon, claiming an army  helicopter had been shot  down.

Syria’s civil war witnessed a major  turning  point in August when Assad’s forces began widely using air power for the first  time to crush the revolt. Several warplanes and  helicopters have been shot down  over the past weeks.

The fighting also reached Aleppo,  which had  been relatively quiet for most of the 18-month-old revolt.  While the military  largely was able to quell a rebel offensive launched  in Damascus in July, it is  still struggling to stamp out the push to  take control of the northern city of  Aleppo.

Today a major water pipeline in Syria’s  largest city was damaged during intense fighting, leaving several Aleppo neighborhoods without drinking water. The Syrian government and opposition traded blame over  the damage to the water pipeline in the central neighborhood of  Midan.

The LCC and Aleppo-based activists said a  Syrian army warplane hit the pipeline with a missile.

The Observatory said the pipeline was  hit as  warplanes bombed the area while clashes raged on the ground, but  it said it was  not immediately clear exactly what caused the damage.

‘Water was completely cut from several neighborhoods in the city,’ Saeed said via Skype. ‘Electricity was cut  and now  water. This will only increase the suffering of people.’

Aleppo’s governor Mohammed Wahid Akkad said  two water pumps were subjected to an act of sabotage by  ‘terrorists,’ the term  used by the regime for the rebels.

Akkad was quoted by state-run news  agency  SANA as saying that water was cut in the neighborhoods of Midan,  Suleimaniyeh  and Aziziyeh and work is under way to repair them.

Amateur videos posted online showed  one of  Midan’s streets after it was turned into a small river by the  flow of water  gushing from the pipeline.

The authenticity of the video and  activist  claims could not be independently confirmed. The regime has  strictly limited  independent reporting in the country.

The uprising against Assad began in  March  2011, when protests calling for political change were met by a  violent  government crackdown by government troops. Many in the  opposition took up arms,  and activists say more than 23,000 people have  been killed. The government says  more than 4,000 security officers are  among the dead.

The Observatory and the LCC also  reported  clashes in the Damascus suburbs as well as the northern  province of Idlib, the  southern province of Daraa and central Hama and  Homs.

In Damascus, the Observatory reported  intense fighting Saturday in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk,  which  had been subjected to government shelling the day before.

When Syria’s unrest began, the  country’s  half-million Palestinians tried to stay on the sidelines. But  in recent months,  young Palestinian refugees, enraged by mounting  violence and moved by Arab  Spring calls for greater freedoms, have been  taking to the streets and even  joining the rebels.

Source: The Daily Mail




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