DAMASCUS, July 27 (Xinhua) -- As the street battles rage on in Syria's northern Aleppo province with rebels bracing for the " mother of all battles", a top UN human right official expressed worries that a major confrontation in the area could be imminent.
The Aleppo urban fights have been raging on for nearly a week after the Western-backed armed opposition fighters failed to subdue the capital Damascus in similar escalation.
Experts said the rebels are now following a new tactic of pushing toward military showdown and confrontation in Syria's two key cities in order to paralyze the regime's ability to withstand the chaos.
The rebels' tactic includes pushing toward populated areas, erecting checkpoints and mounting on rooftops, and in some cases entrenching in houses in order to limit the regular troops' ability to have a free rein when confronting those groups in urban population, accoridng to observers, who said such tactic will greatly jeopardize the safety of civilians who have been caught in the middle of such fights for so long.
Following the recent Damascus blast that killed top security officials including the defense minister, President Bashar al- Assad appointed Fahed Jasem al-Fraij as the new defense minister and rebuilt the pillars of his administration by appointing five security officials.
With the leadership of Fraij, known for his determination and power, the Syrian army has managed to repulse the guerrilla-like tactics of the rebels and to wrest back rebellious areas in the capital.
Activists have recently said that the Syrian army is using tanks and helicopter gunships in its fighting with rebels in Aleppo.
On Thursday, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said the clashes across Syria, including Aleppo, are of a great concern to the United Nations.
Syrian state-run SANA news agency said armed "terrorist" groups have kidnapped civilians from al-Mashhad, Salah Eddin, Saif al- Dawleh and al-Ansari neighborhoods in Aleppo and are preparing to commit another massacre against citizens.
It said the armed forces clashed with armed "terrorist" groups in Salah Eddin and al-Sukari neighborhoods in Aleppo, killing a large number of rebels.
Meanwhile, the state TV said armed opposition fighters dressed in military uniforms have committed a massacre in Salah Eddien area. It did not specify the casualties.
The rebels are apparently trying to create a foothold in Aleppo, which is close to the borders with Turkey, in order to repeat the Libyan scenario when NATO-backed rebels occupied Benghazi and used it as a launching-pad for their operation across Libya.
However, Turkey, which harbors thousands of Syrian refugees and armed rebels, decided to close all border crossings with Syria on Wednesday, apparently to avoid the spread of clashes into its frontier.
Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay appealed to both Syrian government forces and rebels to spare civilians from the fights in Aleppo, voicing deep concerns about the "likelihood of an imminent major confrontation" in the city.
In Damascus, meanwhile, the state media said government forces on Thursday carried out qualitative and courageous operations in al-Hajar al-Aswad and al-Yarmuk neighborhoods, where "terrorists" were spreading inside the populated areas and taking civilians as human shields.
It said the authorities continued chasing the "terrorists" in the two neighborhoods in the city, killing a big number of mercenaries who destroyed private and public properties, terrified citizens and broke off roads.
Analysts said the fighting in Damascus' al-Yarmuk neighborhood, a camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria, marks a new development of the Syrian crisis, as it dragged Palestinians into to the quagmire of conflicts as well.
Leaders of Damascus-based Palestinian factions appealed Friday to Palestinians not to engage in the 17-month unrest, during which some 12,000 people have been killed according to unconfirmed reports by activists.
Special Report: Syrian Situation