The ancient rival of Damascus, Aleppo is a major trading center and, with a population of two million, is now believed to be slightly larger than Damascus. During the first year of the Syrian uprising, it was as if Syrian cities were adhering to their popular stereotypes: Homs the most religiously fanatical city and Hama the most rebellious, both at the lead of the revolt; but Aleppo slow to rebel. Halabi Chalabi, the Syrian saying has it, "the Aleppan is a gentleman." In fact Aleppo saw violent struggle during the regime-Muslim Brotherhood battles of the 1980s. But it may now be facing its greatest ordeal since Tamerlane. (Or worse; Tamerlane may have built towers of skulls, but he didn't have chemical weapons.)
A great city is preparing for a showdown. May things end better than seems likely at the moment.