News / Middle East

    Syrian Government Forces Advance as Rebel Infighting Rages

    Syrian army soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad pose for a photograph with their weapons in the Aleppo town of Naqaren, after claiming to have regained control of the town, Jan. 13, 2014.
    Syrian army soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad pose for a photograph with their weapons in the Aleppo town of Naqaren, after claiming to have regained control of the town, Jan. 13, 2014.
    Reuters
    The Syrian government has retaken territory around the northern city of Aleppo, the military said on Tuesday, after two weeks of rebel infighting that has weakened the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad.
     
    The internecine conflict among some within the chaotic plethora of rebel groups will allow Assad to portray himself as the only secular alternative in Syria to a radical Islamist regime when peace talks begin in Switzerland on Jan. 22.
     
    His military advances will give the Syrian government delegation greater leverage at the negotiating table.
     
    An army statement said government forces had pushed out from their base at Aleppo's international airport, southeast of the city, and were moving towards an industrial complex used as a rebel base and the al-Bab road, urgently needed by insurgents to supply the half of Aleppo under their control.
     
    It said that government forces, along with militia loyal to Assad, were in "complete control'' of the Naqareen, Zarzour, Taaneh and Subeihieh areas along the eastern side of Aleppo, which was the major Arab country's commercial hub and most populous city before the conflict erupted in 2011.
     
    Fighting between the al Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and rival Islamists and more moderate rebels have killed hundreds of people over two weeks and shaken ISIL, a militant faction led by foreign jihadists.
     
    But ISIL regrouped and retook much of its stronghold in the eastern city of Raqqa on Sunday from remnants of the Nusra Front, another al Qaida affiliate although much more Syrian in makeup, and Islamist units called the Islamic Front.
     
    War within a war
     
    ISIL took control of the town of al-Bab, east of Aleppo, from other rebels on Monday, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
     
    The Observatory, which tracks Syria's war using sources from both sides, said eight fighters from Ahrar al-Sham, a unit within the Islamic Front, were killed by an ISIL car bomb in the western province of Idlib just before midnight on Monday.
     
    Syria sank into civil war after a peaceful street uprising against four decades of Assad family rule began in March 2011. The revolt spiralled into an armed insurgency after the army responded with massive and deadly force to suppress the unrest.
     
    As the fighting spread, better-armed hardline Islamists took the fore over more moderate Muslim and secular rebels, who are supported by Gulf Arab and Western nations.
     
    Syria's foreign ministry dismissed as "fantasy'' statements by the pro-opposition Friends of Syria group - including Western and Gulf states - in Paris on Sunday that Assad was a war criminal and peace talks should end his "despotic regime.''
     
    "The Syrian Arab Republic is not surprised by what happened in Paris during the meeting of Syrian people's enemies and the statements, which are closer to fantasy than reality,'' the ministry said in a statement on Monday.
     
    The World Food Programme delivered rations to a record 3.8 million people in Syria in December, but civilians in eastern provinces and besieged towns near the capital Damascus remain out of reach, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
     
    The U.N. agency voiced concern at reports of malnutrition in besieged areas, especially of children caught up in the civil war, and called for greater access.
     
    The official Kuwaiti news agency said non-governmental organizations had promised to donate a combined $400 million for humanitarian aid for Syria ahead of an international donor conference that will start in Kuwait on Wednesday.

    You May Like

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    China Seeks On-Off Switch for Internet

    Public asks whose security is cybersecurity law aiming to protect

    UN Human Rights Chief: Burundi May Explode Into Ethnic Violence

    Burundian government accuses the UN of a campaign of distortion

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora