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“Life in Aleppo has become unbearable. … There’s shelling night and day, every day,” said a Syrian writer who spoke via telephone on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Videos uploaded to the Internet show deserted neighborhood streets filled with rubble blasted from multistory apartment buildings by incoming mortar shells. Since the rebel assault on Aleppo began a week ago, about 192 people have been killed, mostly civilians, according to the activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.