News / Middle East

    Thousands Flee Fighting in Syria's Aleppo

    A man waves as he flees Aleppo, July 29, 2012.
    A man waves as he flees Aleppo, July 29, 2012.
    Edward YeranianLarry Freund
    CAIRO / NEW YORK – Syrian government forces continued their assault in the besieged commercial city of Aleppo Monday, after claiming the upper hand in fighting with outgunned and outmanned rebels.

    Amateur video showed street battles raging in several key neighborhoods. Both the government and rebel fighters claimed to control the strategic Salaheddin district.

    A spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, Abou Firas, told Alhurra TV that fighting is still going on in Salaheddin and that rebels control 60 percent of the city.

    Aleppo NeighborhoodsAleppo Neighborhoods
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    Aleppo Neighborhoods
    Aleppo Neighborhoods
    Firas said the rebels fought a bitter battle to capture the last government checkpoint on the road between Aleppo and the Turkish border at Anadin.  He said the Aleppo countryside is free of government forces and that the road to Turkey is clear.

    Inside Aleppo, government forces stepped up their shelling of rebel-held districts, using rockets, mortar rounds, field artillery and helicopter gunships.

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    In New York, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that he and envoy Kofi Annan are deeply concerned about the situation in Aleppo, especially the impact that shelling and heavy weapons are having on civilians.

    Ban reminded all sides of their obligations under the international law, and urged them to exercise restraint and avoid any more bloodshed. He also called on the Syrian government to renounce the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction under any circumstances.

    200,000 flee

    The U.N. reports that 200,000 residents have fled Aleppo in the last two days, and that conditions are harsh for those who remain behind.

    U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said it is not known how many people remain trapped in places where fighting is continuing. She said the fighting is making it hard for aid workers to provide displaced residents with urgently needed food, mattresses, blankets, hygiene supplies and drinking water.

    New Syrian refugees look out from their bus as they arrive at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province July 29, 2012.New Syrian refugees look out from their bus as they arrive at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province July 29, 2012.
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    New Syrian refugees look out from their bus as they arrive at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province July 29, 2012.
    New Syrian refugees look out from their bus as they arrive at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province July 29, 2012.
    Arab TV channels report thousands of people have crowded into schools and other makeshift shelters. There is no electricity or running water in many places. Bread and other foodstuffs are in short supply.

    Syrian government forces continued to shell other towns and cities, including Dara'a in the south, Deir ez Zor in the east, and Homs, Rastan and Telbiseh north of the Lebanese border. Activists also said government forces raided homes and made arrests in suburbs of Damascus.

    Syrian government forces continued to shell other towns and cities, including Dara'a in the south, Deir ez Zor in the east, and Homs, Rastan and Telbiseh north of Lebanon. Activists also say government forces raided homes and made arrests in suburbs of Damascus.

    Government holds power

    Syria analyst Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group said that despite some rebel successes in and around Aleppo, the government still remains a powerful military force.

    "What we see is a regime which is a very potent force on the ground, but one which is not any longer able to wage the conflict nationwide and re-assert itself," he said.

    "What we see is more an armed opposition coming to some measure of maturity, confronting the regime on its own turf in the large cities, but unable to defeat the regime, and on the other side a regime which is in no position any longer to corroborate its claim to nationwide sovereignty," he said.

    France makes diplomatic push

    In diplomatic developments, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, whose country is assuming the presidency of the U.N. Security Council, said in an interview Monday that Paris intends to call an emergency ministerial meeting of the Council to discuss Syria by week's end.

    Fabius called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an "executioner," and echoed fears of a possible massacre voiced earlier by the United States, Britain and the United Nations.

    The opposition Syrian National Council on Sunday urged the Security Council to hold an emergency session on the situation in Aleppo. The Security Council has voted three times on resolutions aimed at stopping the fighting in Syria. Russia and China, two of the five permanent members, have vetoed each measure.

    Britain's Foreign Office said Syria's chief diplomat in London has defected, making him the latest in a series of top officials, including military officers, who have quit Assad's embattled government in recent weeks.

    The foreign office said Monday that Charge D'affaires Khaled al-Ayoubi informed it that he would no longer represent Syria.

    Yeranian reported from Cairo and Freund reported from U.N. headquarters in New York.



    • This image made from amateur video released by the Ugarit News purports to show Free Syrian Army soldiers in Anadan, 16 kilometers from Aleppo, Syria, July 30, 2012.
    • This image made from amateur video released by the Ugarit News purports to show smoke rising from buildings in Joret el-Shayah, Homs, Syria, July 30, 2012.
    • Syrian rebels sit in a pick up truck in Aleppo, Syria, July 28, 2012.
    • In this citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network ENN, a Syrian man walks past a destroyed building in Maarat al-Numaan on the eastern edge of Idlib province, Syria, July 28, 2012.
    • A destroyed Syrian army tank is seen in the Damascus suburb of al-Tel July 28, 2012.
    • Boys walk on debris in Marat al-Numan, near the northern province of Idlib July 27, 2012.
    • Demonstrators protest Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad at Sermeen, near Idlib, Syria, July 27, 2012.
    • Damaged buildings are seen in Juret al-Shayah in Homs, Syria, July 27, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter looks out from the window of the Shaar district police station in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo after it was overrun by rebel fighters on July 25, 2012.
    • In this citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network, a Syrian citizen journalist documents Syrian forces shelling in Homs, Syria, July 24, 2012.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
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    by: Robert from: UK
    July 31, 2012 12:50 AM
    what has become clear to the world is the moral bankruptcy of the Arabs... be they Egyptians Palestinians Syrians Libyans Iraqis Saudis... its all one disgusting lump of cancer... STAY AWAY FROM EUROPE!!!
    In Response

    by: Nabil Shaqaa from: Germany
    July 31, 2012 2:09 PM
    Robert, just to let you know... we are in Europe... and we soon destroy you and use your women as slaves

    by: CCC from: Russia
    July 30, 2012 11:07 PM
    The brave soldiers dispatched by US will be killed in Syria by terrorists.

    by: Nwvotes from: US
    July 30, 2012 9:29 PM
    Syrian forces and rebels continue to clash. Should the U.S. send aid or forces? Vote at Nationwidevotes.com

    by: John
    July 30, 2012 6:22 PM
    I cannot see that Assad or his opponents are friends of the West. We should therefore leave them alone to fight each other in peace. They'll get back to murdering us soon enough.

    by: Anonymous
    July 30, 2012 5:50 PM
    All I can say about Al Queda joining in on the fight, is at least someone is trying to help these innocent people against their brutal dictator who kills his very own people. The world needs to do more to end Assads Killing Spree. With any luck this war will end soon and Assad will be punished to the highest extent.

    by: Carlos .. from: California
    July 30, 2012 5:10 PM
    President Obama .. do you not think the Syrian people are worthy of freedom .. ? Are they not possessed of the inalienable rights that the American founders proclaimed .. these are humans Mr. President . .I have been to Syrian myself and have never met a better people .. I am disgusted to watch the inaction of the White House ..

    President Obama is to blame.. too much a coward to do anything during the re-election .. so he should agree with Romney to come together and make a joint announcement that they both agree that the US should take military action and lead with air power .. John McCain will give them guidance if the President can't figure out what to do ..

    President Obama should have acted to stop the murder more than 400 days ago .. by sending in drones for the dictator's palaces in Damascus .. instead President Obama has descended into ignominious cowardice ..

    Did the Kremlin wait to get UN approval when they went sent tanks into Georgia in 2008 ? Why is President Obama handcuffed by the Kremlin ? we can only say that it is because he does not want to save the Syrians .. he does not want to send in drones .. he does not want to risk re-election chances and thinks he can shirk his responsibility as leader of the free world ..

    Who does President Obama and the West depend on the save the Syrian children ? The same man who the US depended to save the Rwandan and Bosnian children ..

    Syrian authorities are systematically detaining and torturing children, the United Nations' human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has told the BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-175411...

    President Obama has allowed this to happen .. he has given free rein to the dictators in Damascus and abandoned the Syrian people .. he said the right things when he lead the charge against Qaddafi .. but has let his re-election rule his moral sense on Syria ..

    It is disgraceful cowardice unbecoming of the leader of the home of the brave .. He could have shot back at the Damascus dictators 487 days ago when they started shooting innocent protesters .. He could have sent cruise missiles and drones to attack the palace of the dictator and his tanks and artillery .. He and the other leaders of the West meekly bow to the Kremlin and Chinese dictators .. instead they only strain their intelligence coming up with new words to say how horrible are the Syrian dictators' atrocities ..

    March 28, 2011, President Obama said .. "when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians." www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2011/03/28/president-obama-s-speech-libya

    “To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” (Except in an election year?)

    “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” (Except in an election year?)

    2011: “And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” 2012: Coward

    by: Robert from: Ann Arbo, MI
    July 30, 2012 2:34 PM
    It is unfortunate that UN could not get that Arms Treaty passed. If it was passed, the Syrian government could mow down these evil rebels that want freedom and peace.
    Only "legit" government should be allowed to keep firearms to prevent this kind of terrorism. My prayers go out to these dictators and their family in killing the innocent citizens and disarming them as quickly as possible so no future uprising can occur by the people demanding stuff for the people.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    July 30, 2012 4:32 PM
    That's exactly right, Assad isn't considered legit anymore, he is just a leader on the run technically. Nobody wants him ruling the country after all the indiscriminate killings of women and children and elderly. Hopefully the FSA puts an end to Assads disgusting campaign as soon as possible. An eye for an eye...

    by: suleyman tosun from: london
    July 30, 2012 12:37 PM
    I would like to say does anyone say about the sick the elderly and children.It must be hell as an experienced child of 1974 Cyprus.It is not easy memories will remember for long time.but I remember like my self so may got a dedication after such catastophy to educate and rebuild their country.but taking an elderly is not easy on acar etc.if this happened during 1970s like cyprus people might have got out using horse and cartes or by bare feet or what ever means.that morter bomb blew our kithcen and my mother nearly got killed it distroyed all plates in our kithcent sink ,water tap bath room toilet, so when the free syrian army shows these morter bomb beleive me it looks small but what it did in our kitchen a hell.Only I like to say when we were escaping from greek cypriot gun fire in larnaca this is my experience of a war similar nay go to greek cypriots from north cypus.I have seen wounded ,dead etc so as an experienced person UN must have gone in like in cyprus and interfered but nothing is happening due to Russia and china as thay see it may become like Libya but Syria and Libya political and ethnically is not same as when old ottoman district which syria was Aleppo was not part of that district similarly other areas.like the east and north east.Kurdish issue is what i mean it is a hot issue in the region.

    by: Jesus from: heaven
    July 30, 2012 10:37 AM
    The terrorists weapons look awfully brand spanking new.
    In Response

    by: tiffany wilde from: sierra vista, az
    July 30, 2012 4:38 PM
    i am guessing that the CIA is arming the Muslim Brother Hood and Al-Qaeda to fight against the Syrian govt. The only thing saving that country from the same fate as Libya is Chine and Russia refusing to play along this time. Way to go Chine and Russia!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    July 30, 2012 11:39 AM
    Terrorists? Are you referring to the people of Syria? You sound like one of Assads brainwashed followers. Remember the military leaders that defected because they didn't want to kill innocent men, women, and children? They are heros. The civillians defending themselves from the brutal Assad regime deserve the best weapons possible to shut down Assad permanently.

    by: Michael from: USA
    July 30, 2012 9:00 AM
    Many Americans agree with the Iranian foreign Minister that a peaceful transition will not be possible in the future of Syria. This remark is based on the truth that this conflict is not about occupation of territory, law, or class but only to bring ruin to a royal dynasty
    In Response

    by: theox from: usa
    July 30, 2012 12:52 PM
    1. Syria is not a real country, but a French illusion.
    2. Assads are not royals, but ruthless usurping autocrats.
    3. Iran is a medieval governance without a future. If Assad goes down, the Ayatollahs become easy targets, hence their support for Assad.
    4. No American cares what the FM of Iran says, does, or thinks.
    In Response

    by: Debra Lynn Carter from: USA
    July 30, 2012 10:25 AM
    hey "Michael"... "Many Americans agree with the IRANIAN Mini...flub"??? what are you some sort of an Iranian idiot...??? and what "royal dynasty.." are you talking about...??? Iranian? Syrian? Jordanian? well, it doesn't matter... Iranians... genetically stupid
    Comments page of 2
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