News / Middle East

    Syrian Rebels Execute Assad Loyalists in Aleppo

    A woman walks through rubble from a building destroyed by shelling from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in downtown Aleppo August 1, 2012.
    A woman walks through rubble from a building destroyed by shelling from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in downtown Aleppo August 1, 2012.
    Edward Yeranian
    CAIRO — Syrian rebels have executed four men identified by activists as members of a pro-government tribe in the northern city of Aleppo.
     
    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says a video posted on the Internet shows the rebels executing the captured government loyalists on Tuesday. In the footage, fighters shouting "God is Great" shove the detainees against the outside of a building before opening fire with rifles. The bodies of the men can be seen lying on the ground. 
     
    The Observatory named one of the executed men as Zeno al-Barri, the head of a militia loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Rights groups have accused rebels of carrying out multiple abuses during Syria's 17-month uprising, while reserving the strongest criticism for security forces and pro-Assad militiamen blamed for the worst atrocities of the conflict. 

    Related video report by Michael Bowman

    Fate of Nation
     
    Assad's whereabouts have been unknown since rebels assassinated four members of his inner circle in a Damascus bombing last month. 

    The Syrian president declared the "fate of the nation is at stake" in a statement to mark Armed Forces Day Wednesday. 

    It was the first time since succeeding his father as president 12 years ago that Assad did not deliver his message for Army Day in person or on state television. 
     
    In his message, Assad urged his countrymen to "step up the fight" against what he called "terrorist gangs," adding that Syria's enemies were using "agents inside [the country].....to weaken the government."
     
    The terms are what Syrian government leaders use to refer to rebels and opposition figures fighting to oust Assad.

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    Aleppo Battles

    In Syria's largest city of Aleppo, battles continued to rage along the southern perimeter for a 13th day. It was not clear if either the government or the rebels had gained any ground.
     
    Videos showed rebel fighters capturing at least two police stations from government forces on Tuesday. Witnesses say rebels executed some government prisoners, but the reports could not be independently verified.
     
    The battle for Aleppo, the nation's commercial capital, has been one of the most critical fights in the Syrian uprising.
     
    The U.N. observer team in Damascus reported that government forces used helicopters and fighter planes to attack Aleppo.
     
    Spokesperson Sausan Ghosheh noted that the rebels now possess heavy weapons and that civilians are caught between both sides.
     
    "We now have confirmation that the opposition is in possession of heavy weapons, including tanks," Ghosheh said. "The situation that concerns us the most is the situation of civilians."

    Watch related video of rebel fighters in Aleppo

    Syrians Displaced

    The United Nations said that some 200,000 civilians have fled Aleppo and surrounding areas in recent days. Those stuck inside the city are suffering from food and fuel shortages.
     
    "There are some civilians who are trapped in the cross-fire," Ghosheh said. "There are others who are seeking refuge and shelter in schools and hospitals and public buildings in safer neighborhoods. There is a shortage of food, fuel, water and gas."
     
    Several top rebel officers denied a report by NBC News that the opposition Free Syrian Army had acquired 20 surface-to-air missiles known as "manpads." Possession of the weapons could hinder the government's ability to bomb targets.
     
    Riad Kahwaji, director of the Institute of Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, says that government troops are causing widespread destruction by shelling ground targets, but that the rebels are becoming better armed and able to hold their ground.
     
    "They're causing a lot of destruction, inflicting a lot of collateral damage, but with little apparent effect on the rebels, who are retreating and then re-attacking," Kahwaji said.
     
    "We see the rebels making solid gains and holding onto territory and we also see an improvement in the level of equipment and weapons for the rebels up in the north," he said. "We're starting to see some heavy weapons, heavy mortars, heavy machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades."
     
    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least one person was killed in fighting Wednesday between rebels and security forces in a predominantly Christian neighborhood of Damascus.
     
    Fighting has been rare in Christian areas of the capital during the 17-month uprising against Assad's rule. The Observatory says more than 20,000 people have been killed since the uprising began.
     
    'Disturbing Pattern'
     
    Syria Death Map - updated August 1, 2012Syria Death Map - updated August 1, 2012
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    Syria Death Map - updated August 1, 2012
    Syria Death Map - updated August 1, 2012
    Meanwhile, in a report on the government's ongoing assault in Aleppo, rights group Amnesty International says the violence is the culmination of months of a "brutal crackdown" against dissidents.
     
    “The current onslaught on the city of Aleppo -- which puts civilians even more at grave risk -- is a predictable development which follows the disturbing pattern of abuses by state forces across the country,” said Amnesty's senior crisis response adviser, Donatella Rovera, who recently spent several weeks in Syria investigating abuses.
     
    Amnesty says large numbers of demonstrators and bystanders have been shot dead in Aleppo by security forces and armed militias working alongside government forces. The group says families of those killed have been pressured to sign statements saying their relatives were killed by "armed terrorist gangs."
     
    World Weighs Options
     
    The United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss a Saudi resolution on Syria.
     
    The draft expresses grave concern about the violence and the government's threat to use chemical weapons against what Syria calls foreign invaders. It also calls on Assad to step down.
     
    There are no vetoes in the General Assembly, unlike the Security Council, which saw Russia and China veto three separate resolutions threatening Syria with sanctions for using heavy weapons against civilians.
     

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Musawi Melake from: Anonymous
    August 02, 2012 4:54 AM
    By the announcement of authorizing the use of US-forces clandestinely to assist the "Terrorists", in Assad's view, the US is indicating that it itself entering the war. This means technically the Syrian state are being attacked by another state, i.e. it's declared war. All these are being done in the interest of geopolitics and in the interest of Israel. Any future war against Iran will be much complicated if the current Syrian regime is there and still i possession of the chemical arsenal. This is the easiest way to get rid of them, and the stupid innocent youth and ordinary people of Syria are paying the price while the so called observatory for human-rights receive all sorts help to live a lavish lifestyle. Of course the Assads' regime is barbarous and needed to be removed and Syria democratized, but not for the sake of the survival of the Jewish-state, which in every Muslims mind is an illegal entity established by the West.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 02, 2012 10:22 AM
    Who is the biggest Terrorist of them all? Assad. Him and his family have terrorised Syria for years. Table is turned now, and now he has to pack his bags, before it's too late.

    by: Anonymous
    August 02, 2012 12:53 AM
    Shabiha are one of the most brutal goup of thugs on the planet, there is no doubt in my mind several of them deserve to be executed for atrocities, or multiple killings. One of these Shabiha executed 15 people before being executed himself. He is just lucky he didn't get killed instantly upon capture, he got to live a little longer. Shabiha are known torturers and killers. I seen a video last month of Shabiha cutting arms and legs off of dead civillian fighters (FSA). They are demented.

    by: Jacki from: Sydney AUstralia
    August 01, 2012 4:58 PM
    Sick of ignororant people giving syrians their two cents worth. Your oil-starving nations and greed are what it causing this. I speak to syrians on a regular basis. And yes they support Assad! How would Britain react if Jihadist walked around undermining the legitimacy of your government? How would America react if Jihadist walked around their neighbourhoods and declared their own troops as infidels? You wouldnt be very pleased would you! Well neither are the Syrians. They dont want terrorists in their country. If the west is so intent on supporting them, then lets open up your immigration policies and allow these kind of people into your own country. Its very easy to be a commentator. Heaven forbid that your countries would have to endure the sufferiing that Syria is suffering. Fighting for its sovereignty while the least democratic nations on this planet (SAUDIA ARABIA/QATAR) continue to finance these terrorists to bring destruction to this once peaceful nation. Do some research people. Please dont base your opinions on your "Highly Informative" fox news. What a joke.
    In Response

    by: CATHIA from: canada
    August 13, 2012 12:25 AM
    you are absolutli right they invade iraq because so called weapponof massdistractio that was false accusationbut in syria it is going to be very dirty and massy in the whole region god knows what is going to happen,,,,,,

    In Response

    by: Jack from: Kuwait
    August 02, 2012 7:05 AM
    Very true Jacki. I couldn't have said this better. They started with Tunis first.. then went on to Libya.. then Egypt and now Syria. Who's next ? I am sure the Saudi's, Qataris or for that matter the American and UK govt would sit by idle when this is happening to their government. The sad part is that innocent people suffer.. including children. This is where support and help is needed the most.
    In Response

    by: mervin from: zambia
    August 02, 2012 4:23 AM
    you are almost right the media is one sided and biase why? ask yourself.an apple does not fall far away from its tree (African proverb)
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 02, 2012 12:47 AM
    Funny your way of thinking, the only people I've seen backing Assad is his military and they are in fear of being executed. None of the Syrians I've seen like Assad at all. His dad commited atrocities and now Assad is too. I'm seeing lots of fighters wanting freedom in their country, a choice for a government which does not inflict brutal tactics on its own people and does not oppress the people. They want a different leader and Assad does not want to go whether his people like it or not. Assad doesn't realise, it is the people who make up your country and it is them that will decide their countries future, not him any longer.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 01, 2012 11:04 PM
    Didn't know Syria was sitting on vast oil fields JACK

    by: Anonymous
    August 01, 2012 4:32 PM
    I think the number of crimes against humanity have been by far more imposed by the government. Assad practises dealing crimes against humanity all the time, so did his Dad, for years it was their way of doing business and showing how to intimidate their own people. The table is turned now, and those who were opressed to his family for so long are striking back with a vengence. I'd like to know how the FSA can feed and take care of their captives if the government is bombarding everywhere making food shortages for everyone, mainly civllians. If the FSA can barely feed itself how can they feed the captives? Hopefully Assad has a sudden change of heart when the FSA captures him.

    by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
    August 01, 2012 1:50 PM
    I don't see Syria at the London olympics. Russia and China seek accolades and medals here in London, while at the same time sponsoring genocide in Syria. It shows a lack of direction on the part of Russian and Chinese leaders..
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 01, 2012 11:54 PM
    Rob - are you the one who hate Russia and China or hate Assad? Do you know who is sponsering the opposition- there is no right or wrong- non-interference including media propaganda, is the best. No people has the right to ajudge who (the government and the opposition- I am not using the word rebellion) is right and who is wrong in Syria. Are you happy to see the situaiton in Iraq and in Libya- only mad people do.
    In Response

    by: Rhinga from: Russia
    August 01, 2012 4:55 PM
    on the contrary... it shows a clear direction... stop the spread of Islam.
    In Response

    by: Jason Wreight from: Melbourne Australia
    August 01, 2012 4:37 PM
    Genocide? What rot!
    One man's 'murder' is another man's 'execution'. That's hardly news, but it does reveal the hypocrisy. ANY country in the world, attacked by armed insurgents would react in exactly the same way as the Assad regime is reacting; and they'e be stupid not to.
    Israel, for example, not only massacres the insurgents, but goes after their families and communities too; and has been known to then attack the countries providing the insurgents with anything thing from weapons to toothpaste.

    by: Tychicum from: Rome
    August 01, 2012 1:16 PM
    We are living in interesting times. Here, from the Bible:

    This is a message about Damascus: Damascus is doomed! It will end up in ruins. The villages around Aroer will be deserted, with only sheep living there and no one to bother them.
    (Isa 17:1-2)

    by: YaValioCacaWates from: USA
    August 01, 2012 12:17 PM
    I'm sure Assad and his lovely wife will probably go on a shopping spree first., then start tending to the brave Syrian rebels after he has tea with Putin and the Chinese.

    by: Samantha Price from: UK
    August 01, 2012 11:53 AM
    Oh NO!!! could that be true...?? who is surprised..?? well, no surprise there... what is surprising is that the Arab scumbags who killed our brave troops in Iraq are begging us to destroy Assad when he kills them... would you believe the moral degeneracy of these scumbags... hey Arabs... they are in Europe... they are in Canada... and in the USA... what should we do...??????
    In Response

    by: Steve from: Chicago
    August 01, 2012 4:46 PM
    Hey Samantha The only way to understand what is going on in the world is to find out the truth .The media is brainwhashing us.
    I think people are finally waking up here.so wake up UK.


    In Response

    by: Arab from: USA
    August 01, 2012 3:23 PM
    Hey, you are a closed minded person and not all Arabs are scumbags!!

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