News / Middle East

Syrian Forces Push for Control of Damascus, Aleppo

A man runs for cover during clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and Syrian Army soldiers in the Salah al-Din neighborhood of central Aleppo August 4, 2012.
A man runs for cover during clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and Syrian Army soldiers in the Salah al-Din neighborhood of central Aleppo August 4, 2012.
VOA News

Explosions have rocked the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Saturday, and the northern city of Aleppo as security forces try to push rebels from their remaining strongholds. 

The government says it has regained control of all of the capital.  The French news agency reports a brigadier general told journalists that rebels had resorted to hit-and-run tactics against security forces. 

Activists say an entire district became a battleground in Aleppo on Saturday.  An army helicopter fired machine gun rounds and ground troops shelled targets in an attempt to oust rebels from their positions.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than two dozen people were killed in anti-government-related violence across Syria on Saturday. 

In another development, Iranian state media reports say 48 Iranian nationals who were aboard a bus in Damascus have been kidnapped.  Iran says efforts are under way to free the nationals, described as religious pilgrims.

In recent years, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have traveled to Syria to visit the Sayeda Zeinab mosque, a holy Shi'ite shrine in Damascus.  Iranians have been targets for kidnap gangs several times since Syrian rebel groups began their mass uprising against President Bashar al-Assad more than 17 months ago. 

Syrian rebels come mainly from the country's Sunni Muslim majority, while most Iranians practice Shi'ite Islam. 


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

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Comment Sorting
by: Nicholas Meinzer from: Salt Lake City
August 05, 2012 9:14 AM
As with many countries in the middle-east, protest for regime change broke out in Syria in the past two years, "the arab spring" it's being called; in Syria justifiably, it has been ruled by a family dictatorship for forty years; 'never mind what the people want if you're in the Assad family you're in.' Anyway, instead of dealing with the protests peacefully Bashir Assad had his police and military forces start beating and shooting people (teenagers) and threw out foreign journalists trying to cover the brutality; these are facts. That will get you a rebel army at your door my friends.

Russia and China - UN security council decenters on Assad Regime sanctions - are probably just interested in trading arms for oil and counting on the world's public to forget how this all started, 'oh, well, comrade you must support the regime to handle this peacefully, anyway could we just get our trading partner back?' Obviously that ship has sailed.
In Response

by: giorgio from: england
August 06, 2012 1:48 PM
what is mater with muslims killing muslims childrens womens,assad he never go antill he destroy all syria, he should be hang him and all his friends, tomorow if all over give the busness to china and russia, they are good friend,they stop reall friend to come to help

by: musawi melake from: anonymous
August 04, 2012 10:18 PM
The kidnapping of unarmed civilians, killing of journalists and suicide-bombings should have been enough to know what kind of Human-rights observatory mission is being carried out. The intelligence souls in Washington and other European capitals should have now known that this is nothing other than a terrorist-problem. They should be dealt with force like any other outfits that operates with either local or global aims. Why are they hesitant? The day of the so called Armed-struggles is over at the end of the cold-war, and peace should be won by peaceful means like forming a committee to find out the truth and find ways of reconciling the people, for whatever happened can not be revoked and it should be the responsibility of the Syrian govt. investigate and do remedy without outside interference. Bodies like UNHRC could be the arena for discussion, and the solution should be entirely home-grown. There are precedence for such things and the US and EU were active partners for such issues.

by: Salty from: Arkansas
August 04, 2012 5:14 PM
So who are the good guys here? I am confused about this war.
In Response

by: Nick from: SLC
August 06, 2012 3:17 AM
I've posted an answer to your question above

by: rick from: us
August 04, 2012 5:07 PM
here we have it folks,the reason we will invade iran and syria. this known as a proxy war. we have been arming and supporting the syrian rebels secretly so why would they want iranians? easy- so far no country has gotten involved on the books but everyone has been involved secretly. if Iran is the first to attack the rebels then we will get into syria and iran next

by: Anonymous
August 04, 2012 4:59 PM
You seem to make it look as if the rebels are 100% wrong in the situation. The government refuses to listen to the UN and has not done anything to withdraw.

by: Ed Hemp from: earth
August 04, 2012 2:38 PM
As I recall 444 days of US citizens being held in iran. Not to mention the those they have taken hostage since then. I'm really not overly concerned about the "pilgrims". They probably shouldn't have been traveling in syria.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 04, 2012 2:24 PM
Of course Tehran must know where they are, for it knows all the players even by name. and even though by this the Syrians seem to be withdrawing from Ahmadinejad's payroll, he knows how to reach out to them and negotiate. I would have felt sorry for the hapless (civilian?) pilgrims caught in the cross fire (they're trying to send a message to Ahmadinejad to stop supporting Assad in killing Syrians), but the certainty that the Syrians are only playing Iranian game assures me that they are not in great danger, otherwise there would have been a need to sample the bit in Tehran streets how it feels to have your people either kidnapped or killed in terrorist attack.

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