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The rebels are outgunned by the Syrian forces, making it difficult for them to hold any territory for long. But the rebels’ run on Damascus and Aleppo suggests they could be gaining in power and organization.
With a population of about 3 million, Aleppo is Syria’s commercial hub, a key pillar of support for Assad’s regime.
If the rebels in Aleppo really try to make a stand against the regime, however, they risk being annihilated by superior firepower and may yet decide to withdraw to preserve their forces as what happened in Damascus last week.
Saudi Arabia and other nations have spoken positively of arming the rebels, though no country is known to be doing so.
Saudi King Abdullah announced a national campaign to collect money for "our brothers in Syria" on July 22, and on Saturday the country’s press agency said Saudi donations had reached more than $72 million.
Italy also welcomed Friday’s release of two Italian electrical engineers, who had been captured eight days ago by militants.
Italian company Ansaldo Energia, which supplies and installs power generation plants, confirmed that the two men — Domenico Tedeschi and Oriano Cantani — worked for a subcontractor in Syria.
Tedeschi told reporters in Damascus that they had been kidnapped by five or six masked men, who intercepted their car as they drove to the airport.
He said the men were robbed, then kept at a small villa. "The Syrian army found us at midday on Friday and they organized everything to release us safe," he said.
Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Colleen Barry in Rome and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.
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