BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian rebels in embattled Aleppo tried to maintain morale Thursday by highlighting small gains amid a withdrawal from the most contested area of the city, as government forces fired on their positions with jets, helicopters, artillery and tanks.
On the second day of a ground offensive that could signal a decisive turn in the battle for Aleppo, Syria's largest city, rebels said they continued to fight in new neighborhoods and with new tactics, as the authorities bragged of heavy losses for foes of President Bashar Assad.
Assad also sought to project an appearance of political control and strength by appointing a new prime minister, Wael Nader al-Halqi, to replace Riyad Farid Hijab, who defected to Jordan this week. Halqi, 48, had been minister of health.
In Tehran, state television reported a one-day forum of officials from about 30 countries, including Russia and China, to discuss Syria's future. The meeting appeared designed to project an image of Iran as a regional power broker.