News / Middle East

    Battles for Aleppo Loom on Syria's Northern Front

    Battles for Aleppo & Surroundings Loom on Syria's Northern Fronti
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    June 13, 2013 1:21 AM
    Syrian government forces are reported to be preparing for a major offensive on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo and its surroundings. Patrick Wells was recently in northern Syria where Islamist opposition fighters massed in a strategic town south of Aleppo.
    Battles for Aleppo & Surroundings Loom on Syria's Northern Front
    Patrick Wells
    Syrian government forces are reported to be preparing for a major offensive on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo and its surroundings. In northern Syria, Islamist opposition fighters massed in a strategic town south of Aleppo.

    Khan al Assal, off Highway 5, eight kilometers southwest of Aleppo - Syria's commercial hub besieged by war.

    There has been fierce fighting for control of this strategic town. Islamist rebel fighters navigate the ground through holes they've picked in garden walls. They don't know where the government sniping positions are, and which paths are safe to walk down.
     
    Khan al Assal was once a pleasure retreat for Aleppo's business elite, but after weeks of fighting much of the town is in ruins.

    Hardline Islamist fighters have occupied palaces, which they said were previously in the hands of Alawite pro-government militias, the Shabiha.

    They say graffiti of government forces and their playing cards litter the rooms.

    "These belong to the regime, these are their cards. God is the greatest," one fighter said.
     
    Rebels watch for movement in the government lines, occasionally firing their sniper rifles at nothing in particular. State media said this week government forces eliminated "terrorists" in nearby farms.

    Rebel commander Colonel Abu Bakr says control of Khan al Assal is a stepping stone towards Aleppo's military academy. He predicts victory.

    "When Khan al Assal falls, the next step will be the military academy which is the biggest base in the city of Aleppo. It's where the regime helicopters refuel and it's also their operations center. It's considered as the last main base in the city of Aleppo for the regime," Bakr said.

    On the roads west of Aleppo, international Jihadists from Russia, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are visible.

    Witnesses say that at a nearby theme park, Magic World, Islamists had cut the heads off of the statues, which some conservative Muslims consider idolatrous.

    Commander Abu Bakr was asked about their presence.

    "I don't want to talk about that," Bakr said.

    Later, the colonel said that Jihadists were coming to Syria because Western governments hadn't provided enough military aid.

    As battles for Aleppo loom, the U.S. is considering the possibility of sending weapons to non-jihadist rebel groups.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    June 13, 2013 7:28 AM
    UN Claims 93,000 people confirmed dead in Syria Conflict. Numbers are likely greater, and very likely double.

    by: Anonymous
    June 13, 2013 5:37 AM
    That will be great if they disable the refueling station which feeds the terrorist helicopters led by Assad that bomb the civilian areas without any respect for human life of any kind, and has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Crimes against Humanity and the Syrian Nation in general by Assad.
    In Response

    by: Nam Viet from: Vietnam
    June 13, 2013 10:39 PM
    So what you should call the abitrary US bombings that killed hundred thousands of innocent Vietnamese people (including many children and women) in the North of Vietnam during 1972? a terrorist activities? a crime against humanity? If so you should call the US a terrorist state! No word can justify their actions!

    by: Igor from: Russia
    June 12, 2013 11:36 PM
    It would be a shameful move if the US government decided to arm the rebels which are terrorists or led by terrorists. Those weapons would be use to kill innocent americans sooner or later. The same situations have happened in Lybia, Iraq, Afganistan. So Mr. Obama and his administration should act wisely or they will become terrorist backers or sponsors
    In Response

    by: Thomas from: England
    June 13, 2013 2:57 PM
    Why - Russia and Iran are doing us all a favour in tackling jihadi islamists. It's funny how the same people who were killing Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan (and on 9/11) you suddenly want to provide sophisticated weaponry to...
    ... you think giving them anti-aircraft missiles will make them stop hating you and everything you believe in?
    In Response

    by: Richard from: North Carolina
    June 13, 2013 12:12 PM
    Syria is the main conduit for arms to Hezbollah. Russia's support of Syria is support of terrorism. Putin and Russia are as much in bed with Hezbollah as Iran is. The US and the West must respond by providing as much military and other aid as the rebels need to overcome Assad. Even should they become terrorists they will be less capable terrorists than Syria and Hezbollah, armed with advanced Russian weapons but the Russian Terrorist in Chief, Putin.

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