The Syrian state media reported Wednesday that government forces have gained full control of Aleppo's Salah al-Din district, the most strategic part of the city where rebel forces continue to battle regime loyalists.

Free Syrian Army commanders, however, are denying reports that they have retreated.

Jim Phillips, a senior defense analyst with The Heritage Foundation, said the situation in Syria is still tenuous and fierce fighting is expected to escalate.

"I think the Free Syrian Army has gained momentum and growing political support," Phillips said. "But it still is outgunned by the Syrian army, which has been worn down but remains lethal."

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 20 deaths Wednesday throughout Syria.

Sara A. Carter is The Washington Examiner's national security correspondent. She can be reached at