Al Jazeera reports that Syrian forces have begun a ground assault on the northern end of Aleppo, bringing tanks and armored vehicles to fight the rebels holed up in the city. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighting represents the fiercest Aleppo has seen since the uprising first began 17 months ago. Observers called the fighting a "major battle" for the rebels, and noted that the area has been "a pillar of support for the president."
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi admitted Wednesday that a handful of the Iranians taken hostage in Syria are "retired" members of Tehran's Revolutionary Guards. "A number of the [hostages] are retired members of the Guards and the army. Some others were from other ministries," Salehi said.