News / Middle East

Battles for Aleppo Loom on Syria's Northern Front

Battles for Aleppo & Surroundings Loom on Syria's Northern Fronti
X
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.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More