News / Middle East

Syrian Forces Pound Rebel Positions in Aleppo

A Free Syrian Army fighter runs after a Syrian Army tank shell explodes in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo, August 5, 2012.
A Free Syrian Army fighter runs after a Syrian Army tank shell explodes in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo, August 5, 2012.
VOA News
The Syrian army continued attacking rebel positions Sunday in the northern city of Aleppo with heavy shelling and helicopter gunships.
 
The country's biggest city has become a key battleground in the nearly year and a half uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, as government forces reportedly mass ahead of what is expected to be a strong offensive against the rebels.
 
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 40 Syrians, including 25 civilians, were confirmed as killed Sunday across the country.  The British-based group said more than 24 others were killed a day earlier.  The casualties have not been independently verified.
 
Kidnapped Iranians
 
Meanwhile, Iranian media said Tehran has asked Turkey and Qatar to help secure the release of 48 Iranian nationals kidnapped Saturday in Damascus.  Iran says the victims were religious pilgrims, but a brigade commander with the Free Syrian Army describes them as elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
 
Iran backs the Syrian government, while Turkey and Qatar support the Syrian opposition. 
 
Former Iranian President Abolhasan Bani Sadr tells VOA that the captured Iranians were not armed or wearing Revolutionary Guard uniforms.  He says Iran is definitely helping President Assad and that the stakes are very high for his country.
 
He says that the fall of the Assad government would not only be a heavy blow to Iranian prestige and influence in the region, but it would also reinforce U.S. policy of containing Iran.  He says Tehran views any toppling of President Assad as signifying that Iran's turn could be next.

  • A truck catches flames after it was hit by rockets fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter plane during an air strike in the village of Tel Rafat, some 37 km (23 miles) north of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
  • A general view shows a street after clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad, in Salah Edinne district, in the center of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter fires an anti-aircraft gun as a Syrian Air Force fighter bomber fires rockets during an air strike in the village of Tel Rafat, some 37 km (23 miles) north of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
  • In this photo taken on guided government tour, Syrian army forces are seen at al-Sijen district, in the center of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
  • A Syrian man reacts after the funeral of 29 year-old Free Syrian Army fighter, Husain Al-Ali, who was killed during clashes in Aleppo, in the cemetery in town of Marea on the outskirts of Aleppo city, August 9, 2012.
  • Men search for bodies under rubble of a house destroyed by a Syrian Air force air strike, in Tel Rafat, about 37 kilometers north of Aleppo, Syria, August 8, 2012.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, Syrians attend the funeral procession of a man killed in Idlib province, August 7, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter runs after a Syrian Army tank shell exploded in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo, August 5, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters fire their rifles during clashes with Syrian Army soldiers in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo August 5, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army fighter holds a RPG launcher during clashes with Syrian Army in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo August 5, 2012.
  • This image map provides an overview of the activity seen in Aleppo from July 23, 2012 to August 1, 2012 (base image collected on July 29, 2012).
  • More than 600 probable artillery impact craters, represented here with yellow dots, were identified in Anadan, in the vicinity of Aleppo.
  • In this August 5, 2012 photograph, Syrians pass by a destroyed house in town of Atareb outskirts of Aleppo, Syria.
  • Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover during clashes with Syrian Army soldiers in the Salah al- Din neighborhood of central Aleppo August 5, 2012.
  • Syrian women mourn the loss of loved ones in Aleppo fighting, August 5, 2012.
International Debate Continues
 
The U.S. State Department announced Sunday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Turkey later this week to discuss the deteriorating situation in Syria. 
 
The United Nations General Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Security Council for its failure to act and condemned the Syrian regime for using heavy weapons.  

Kofi Annan's Six-Point Peace Plan
 
  • A Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
  • A U.N. supervised end to armed violence by all parties in Syria.
  • Timely humanitarian assistance in all areas affected by fighting.
  • Increasing the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained people.
  • Ensuring freedom of movement for journalists.
  • Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.
The U.N. special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, resigned Thursday in frustration with the world body's failure to act decisively to prevent  the bloodshed in Syria.  Mr. Annan said he could not be the only one working for peace while the fighting between Syrian forces and the rebels intensified.  Mr. Annan's peace plan for Syria included an immediate cease-fire and talks on a transitional government. 
 
Russia and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions that would have held President Assad responsible for his failure to abide by Mr. Annan's peace plan and threatened him with sanctions. 

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

 

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by: Anonymous
August 05, 2012 10:30 PM
I hope that Assads whereabouts gets announced soon so that the world will know where this guy is. He is commiting more and more crimes against humanity from his hiding spot. How is it that someone like Assad can kill many thousands of innocent people, and yet he is still alive???

by: Talena Holt from: Somerset, KY U.S.A.
August 05, 2012 3:54 PM
It's really hard to believe that in this day and time so much loss of life is a game to people. Why don't they have to use some of all that energy they have to do something productive, versus destructive?

by: David Kruse from: Denver Colorado, US
August 05, 2012 3:41 PM
I wonder if the British and French had any idea that drawing borders in the former ottoman empire would cause the world such grief. Unfortunately, they took actions that have had unintended consequences. May the poor and innocent folks have the luck to survive the meddling of ignorant foreigners and their lackeys that have no respect for human rights.

by: Ed from: USA
August 05, 2012 3:22 PM
Pls check this Video, based on the Iranian ID, they are part of the Iranian revelotion!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErpoufJefwY

by: neomy sotto from: UN
August 05, 2012 3:20 PM
Iranian "pilgrims" armed with explosives... hey, they just want to pray to Alla... nuclear bomb??? what nuclear bomb...?? they just want a cheap alternative to oil...

Iran... what a farce...

by: FearToTellVOA from: USOfCourse
August 05, 2012 3:17 PM
VOA forgot to mention that US vetoed more UN resolutions than another countries.
In Response

by: James from: Nebraska
August 06, 2012 7:01 PM
To FearToTellVOA: thanks for playing.

The correct answer is:
USSR/Russia: 123, half of all UN vetos in the first ten years
USA: 82, its first cast only in 1970, though nearly all since relate to the Israeli/Palestinian issue
UK: 32, mostly regarding decolonization
France: same as UK
People's Republic of China/Republic of China: 6 - The ROC only issued one veto, over Mongolia's admission to the UN. The PRC issued the other five after Taiwan was ejected from the UN. China threatened to veto every African nation's admission if Mongolia was not admitted. The PRC usually abstains unless the issue directly relates to China.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_veto_power#Analysis_by_country

by: Bib from: Trieste
August 05, 2012 1:31 PM
Wow nice AK...looks chinese from here...gotta love those chinese, they will supply anything to anyone to upset the sovis or the americans...

by: J from: Seattle
August 05, 2012 1:01 PM
Creepy Americans cheering death, torture, kidnapping, whatever it is, it's usually a fairly psychotic affair. USA? USA? No thanks...

by: johnny sparks from: atlantic beach fl
August 05, 2012 12:26 PM
Israel and the N.W.O. is served when Syria is fully unstable..Iran needs Syria for Her strategic position north of Israel,,,all countries around Israel,,,standing with Iran,,, will be destabilized first,,, Then, Israel will attack Iran.,,,,,,,,,Russia will wait for the U.S. and supply weapons and advisers at first.,,,, Maybe,,,,They might just nuke Israel,,,While China attacks the U.S.....lob some missiles,,, Preempt the War,,,,that's where this thing is going,,, WW3.,,,,,,,,,,, The Train Has left the Station
In Response

by: vonrik from: Manchester CT
August 06, 2012 8:22 AM
Johnny...you are so right....nobody is thinking about the what if Russia and China goes ahead and put the foot down and WW3 will begin.

by: musawi melake from: anonymous
August 05, 2012 11:17 AM
It's the right decision on the part of the soveregin Syrian authorities to take lead from the Hon. President of the Russian federation, who did the right thing himself by striking first to destroy the terrorists in the Caucasus and later coming out with various forms of remedies for the grievances, if any,of the common man Western Powers are simply bent on acquiring unprecedented access to third-world treasures(resources) to keep their own peoples' living-standard high, and for that they are utilizing traitors to do terror campaign like suicide-bombing, killing press persons and kidnapping pilgrims, the same things, if done against their own nationals would force them to cry-foul and do so called drone-killings.
In Response

by: Jon Q Publik from: Good ol USofA
August 05, 2012 3:28 PM
People love money and power sooo much they are willing to decimate their own country. Sounds like we all really are alike.
In Response

by: moni from: freeland
August 05, 2012 12:04 PM
That is good kidnapping pilgrims, and kill them, that what Iran doing.
There are the head of the snake, and has to be cut first.
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