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In Syria's countryside, vital support for rebels

Manu Brabo / AP

An FSA soldier shoots his weapon towards Syrian Army positions in the Amariya district in Aleppo, Syria, on Sept. 10.

Muhammed Muheisen / AP

Syrian rebel fighters raise their weapons as they head to fight government forces in Aleppo, in Suran, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, on Sept. 10.

Muhammed Muheisen / AP

A Syrian rebel fighter, registers the serial number of his AK-47 to a local leader, before heading to fight government forces in Aleppo, at their headquarters in Suran, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, on Sept. 10.

AP reports -- Support from rebel-controlled towns and villages dotting the rich farmland of this northwestern pocket near the Turkish border is likely one reason that rebel forces have been able to keep going in a now 2-month-old battle for control of Syria's largest city, Aleppo. The region is the rebels' strategic depth. Towns provide fighters. Residents help funnel food, supplies and ammunition to the front lines. And rebels engaged in the fight can find a safe refuge to rest and recuperate.

Rebels in July launched an audacious assault on Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub that until then had been untouched by the fighting. Eight weeks on, the rebels have held large chunks of the city and show no signs of being driven out as they were in a failed assault on the capital of Damascus over the summer. According to the rebels, the vast majority of those fighting in Aleppo come from the towns and the villages to the north, many of which have been free from government control since May.

The rebels are proving the wisdom of Che Guevara, who preached the importance of establishing safe havens and local support in the countryside. "The guerrilla fighter needs full help from the people of the area. This is an indispensable condition," he wrote in the introduction to his 1960 manual "Guerrilla Warfare."

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Muhammed Muheisen / AP

Syrian Mohammed Ramadan, 46, whose displaced from his home in Dir el Zour, due to fighting between the rebels and government forces, comforts his daughter Haneen, 5, who suffers from a lung infection, while waiting to be examined by a doctor at a makeshift hospital in Suran, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, on Sept. 10.

Achilleas Zavallis / AFP - Getty Images

A Syrian rebel sniper shoots at forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Seif al-Dawla area in the embattled northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Sept. 10.

Manu Brabo / AP

An FSA soldier walks through a street in Amariya district in Aleppo, Syria, on Sept. 10.

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