Rebels in 'decisive battle' for Aleppo
THE TAWHID Brigade of the rebel Free Syrian Army yesterday announced the beginning of a “decisive battle” for Aleppo, saying that 6,000 of the brigade’s fighters were committed to the campaign, and that they had sufficient weapons and ammunition to carry it out.
Brig Cmdr Bashir al-Hajj told the Guardian newspaper the objective was to reclaim districts of the city lost to the army. Other formations complained they had been unable to advance in the battle for the country’s commercial hub because of a lack of ammunition.
In Qudsaya, a town northwest of Damascus, many injuries were reported after a bomb exploded outside a school as the Syrian army claimed “game over” in text messages to mobile phones throughout the country. The messages called on rebels to surrender and hand in their arms and said the campaign to drive out foreign fighters had begun.
The circulation of the messages followed a meeting in Damascus of 30 domestic opposition factions in the “Coalition for Peaceful Change”, which rejects militarisation of the conflict and promotes dialogue with the government.
Participants were said to be surprised when three officers, two warrant officers and six civilians appeared and announced their defection from the rebel Free Syrian Army.
The opposition Local Co-ordination Committees reported that Wednesday’s death toll of 343 was the highest daily count since the revolt erupted 18 months ago. The London-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gave a figure of 300.
Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin castigated western powers for wreaking “havoc in other countries, including in Syria. Our position is to encourage change for the better. We are not imposing – especially by force – what we believe in.”
His remarks were in response to continuing deadlock over the crisis in the UN Security Council and the departure by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton from the council chamber as her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov stepped up to the podium.