Fierce clashes raged between Syrian troops and rebels around a major infantry academy at the northern entrance of Aleppo, as insurgents attempted to storm the school compound on Tuesday, a watchdog said.
The sprawling military school, located close to the town of Muslimiyeh near the Hanadarat Palestinian refugee camp, houses approximately 3,000 soldiers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
According to the Britain-based watchdog, the rebels encircled the academy—which is still in operation—just over two weeks ago, after taking control of a large agriculture building on the compound.
"The school is very important for its size and location," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
"The compound is eight square kilometers and will be very difficult to take. The rebels will need thousands of fighters," Abdel Rahman added.
In footage posted to the Internet with the logo of the Liwa al-Tawhid rebel brigade, five gunmen are seen firing automatic weapons from behind a hill toward a building in a wooded area, as explosions are heard in the background.
The video, titled "Aleppo infantry school: clashes in the heart of the school," could not be immediately verified.
Elsewhere in the province, 11 Kurds, including three children and two women, were killed Monday night when four mortars struck the Sheikh Maksoud district in Aleppo city, the Observatory said.
Another 13 people were wounded, some critically, in the bombardment on the largely Kurdish neighborhood.
The mortars were fired by rebels from the Bustan al-Basha district, according to activists.
In Damascus, the army shelled southern districts of the city while security forces raided several areas of the nearby Midan district, the Observatory said.
Further south of the capital, two men were killed in bombing on the town of Daraya, where rebels have been resisting a military onslaught since mid-summer, while shelling was also reported across the eastern outskirts of the city.
The Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists on the ground, meanwhile reported fierce shelling originating from the Mazzeh military airport targeting southern areas of Damascus.
On Monday, 112 people—51 civilians, 33 rebels and 28 soldiers—were killed nationwide according to the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics in civilian and military hospitals on the ground.
The highest toll was in Damascus city and province, where 44 people were killed.
Analysts say President Bashar al-Assad's regime has been trying to establish a secure perimeter around Damascus at all costs in a bid to be in a position to negotiate a solution to the 21-month conflict that the Observatory says has cost more than 44,000 lives.