Three successive overhead snapshots by orbiting civilian satellites provide the best, unclassified, big-picture view to date of the more than two-month-old battle for one of Syria’s key cities. Since late July troops loyal to embattled Syrian president Bashar Al Assad have waged a relentless air and ground campaign against rebels in Aleppo, a city of two million near the border with Turkey.
In the satellite photos, a tank appears then disappears, leaving a ruined building in its wake. Scorch marks, craters and debris chart the progression of brutal urban fighting. Makeshift defensive positions proliferate as the assault escalates.
These details and more are visible in commercial satellite images dated Aug. 9 and 23. Researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, based in Washington, D.C., compared the August snapshots to each other and to an October 2011 Google Earth image in order to understand the scale and evolution of the fighting.