AMMAN, July 21 (Reuters) - Syrian rebels battled army units on Saturday in the northern city of Aleppo, forcing hundreds of families to flee their homes, opposition activists said.
Activists in the Sunni Muslim city of 3 million people, an industrial and commercial hub close to the border with Turkey, said the army was pushing troops and armoured vehicles into Saladin district.
The large neighbourhood in eastern Aleppo, inhabited by both Arabs and Kurds, has been under rebel control for two days.
Fighting was also reported in al-Sakhour, a poor area on the edge of the city inhabited by members of four large Arab tribes which have started to turn against Assad, they said.
"The sound of bombardment has been non-stop since last night. For the first time we feel Aleppo has turned into a battle zone," a housewife said by phone from the city.
Opposition sources said al-Sakhour, because of its tribal nature, was better-armed than the rest of the city, and that fighting was continuing in the Aleppo countryside.
At least 15 rebels, including guerilla commander Ahmad al-Fij, were killed on Friday in a failed attempt to take over the Police Academy in the town Ouram al-Sughra, 35 km (20 miles) southwest of Aleppo.
An alliance between the Alawite Assad family and the merchant class in the staunchly conservative Sunni city has been weakening in recent months, as has support for Assad among tribes which provide many members of the pro-government shabbiha militia. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; editing by Andrew Roche)