>> A wasteland devastated by some of Syria's fiercest battles, but is Aleppo's war entering its final stretch? Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, saying Wednesday that Syrian government forces could retake rebel held areas by the end of the year. Backed by militias and Moscow's all-important air power, they've scored some of their biggest victories this week.
No end yet to the bombardment from land and sky, an artillery assault on eastern Aleppo killing more than 45 people on Wednesday, rescuers say. Reuters Angus McDowall is in neighboring Lebanon.>> For Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the array of countries and militias that back him, including Russia and Iran, the final fall of the rebel sector of Aleppo would represent the greatest victory since the beginning of the civil war in 2011.
>> Not so fast, say the rebels, we won't give in without a fight. Driven from a third of the territory they've held for years this week, this could be their last stand.>> Since the Syrian army and its allies made sweeping advances across the northern part of rebel held eastern Aleppo on Sunday night and Monday, rebels have retreated to a new front line.
And the coming hours and days will test, whether they can hold it, in the face of a continuous bombardment from the air and against probing attacks by the army.>> Caught in the middle, the growing number of displaced, 50,000 people says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. That's more than double the Red Cross figure.
Whichever is right, the number is vast and rising by the day.