Syria rebels out of Aleppo district

2012-08-10 09:30

Aleppo - Rebels retreated from the key Aleppo district of Salaheddin under a deadly rain of shellfire on Thursday, as a veteran Algerian diplomat was set to be named the new international envoy to Syria.

"We have staged a tactical withdrawal from Salaheddin. The district is completely empty of rebel fighters. Regime forces are now advancing into Salaheddin," said Hossam Abu Mohammed, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander, with the battle for Syria's commercial capital raging into a second day.

"The fighters are withdrawing to [nearby] Sukari district, where they are preparing a counter-attack," he told AFP by telephone.

Abu Mohammed cited heavy shelling and the army's use of thermobaric bombs, which throw out a wall of fire to incinerate targets in enclosed spaces.

"A large number of civilians were killed, as were some 40 rebels," he said. "Forty buildings have been flattened."

State television said: "Our special forces have cleansed Salaheddin district of terrorists."

But Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that fighters remained in the district, ready to "fight to the death."

Wassel Ayub, who commands the Nur al-Haq Brigade, said the FSA had withdrawn "to open a new front in Saif al-Dawla and Mashhad."

FSA spokesperson Kassem Saadeddine, speaking by Skype, said the withdrawal "does not mean we are leaving Aleppo. We have military plans to fight in the city, but we cannot reveal them".

Next big battle

In Damascus, a security source said regime forces were "advancing quickly" in Salaheddin towards Saif al-Dawla.

"But the next big battle, which will be very fierce, will be in the [south-eastern] Sukari district," he added.

At least 17 people were killed in Aleppo, scene of fierce battles since 20 July, the Observatory said, adding that two children and a citizen journalist were among them.

Nationwide, the toll reached 96 - 37 civilians, 31 soldiers and 28 rebels - according to the Observatory. That compared with 167 on Wednesday, including 33 in Aleppo.

Elsewhere, fierce fighting also broke out in Damascus province, where at least 15 people were killed, most of them civilians, while regime forces shelled Zabadani, the monitoring group said.

On Wednesday, loyalist troops launched their offensive against the rebels, who had claimed to control half the city, after President Bashar Assad vowed a day earlier to crush the rebellion that erupted in March 2011.

Diplomats at the United Nations said former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi was expected to be named as the new UN-Arab League envoy to Syria.

Negotiations were still going on over the envoy's role and how the United Nations will operate in Syria amid the intensifying civil war. The mandate of the UN mission in the country ends on 20 August.

Traditional demonstration

An official announcement of the 78-year-old's appointment was expected to be made early next week, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Brahimi was the UN envoy in Afghanistan after the 11 September 2001 attacks and in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion.

Kofi Annan, a former UN secretary-general, said he was leaving the post because of the lack of international support for his efforts to end the 17-month Syria conflict, in which rebels say more than 20 000 people have been killed.

He is staying on until August 31.

Activists on the Syria Revolution 2011 Facebook page called for the traditional demonstration following weekly Muslim prayers on Friday, with this week's slogan being "Arm us with anti-aircraft weapons".

On the political front, Assad appointed Health Minister Wael al-Halqi as his new premier following the defection this week of Riad Hijab, a leading Sunni Muslim in the minority Alawite-dominated regime.

Halqi served as ruling Baath party secretary from 2000 to 2004 in his home province of Daraa, the birthplace in southern Syria of the anti-Assad revolt.

Day two of the battle for Aleppo came as Syria's key regional ally Iran hosted a 29-nation meeting aimed at finding ways to end the raging conflict.

National dialogue

State media said the foreign ministers of Iraq, Pakistan and Zimbabwe were present. Lower-ranking diplomats, most of them ambassadors, represented the other nations.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi opened the meeting by calling for "national dialogue between the [Syrian] opposition, which has popular support, and the Syrian government to establish calm and security", according to state television.

He added that Iran was prepared to host any such dialogue.

Earlier, Salehi said Tehran was attempting to revive parts of Annan's plan, notably: implementing a ceasefire, sending humanitarian aid and laying groundwork for national dialogue.

Excluded from the Tehran meeting were Western and Gulf Arab nations that Iran has accused of giving military backing to the insurgency.

There was no immediate word from the predominantly Sunni Muslim Syrian opposition and rebels on how they viewed the conference in majority Shiite Iran, a stalwart ally of Assad's regime.

The United States dismissed the conference in Tehran, saying the Islamic Republic had been helping Assad kill his people.

  • ghengis.khan.585 - 2012-08-10 09:52

    The best thing these rebels can do is listen to the UN Security council and go to the negotiation table. This will stop the killing of innocent civilians. These rebels have the blood of the innocent on their hands for failing to heed to International resolutions - they are a criminal group of terrorists they need to surrender their arms.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 16:09

      Is this what you would do if members of your family were tortured, raped and killed by an unelected dictator for eleven months while you were demonstrating peacefully for the basic human right to vote?

      nhamo.dzenyika - 2012-08-10 17:07

      which dictator wena Fred? The real dictators are Israel and USA. Israel has nuclear weapons but don't want Iran to produce the same for civilian purposes!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-10 17:26

      Ghengis You are a hyprocrite of the worst sort, by denying others the freedom , you so eagerly ABUSE!! The ones you call terrorist, that prostitute gaddafi called, 'rebels and rats' BUT throughout the world they are called opposition. I suppose you agreed with the Nats, that the ones who fought for freedom here in SA, were also terrorists and criminals ??????

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-10 17:35

      For FIFTY YEARS, the Syrian opposition ,begged, these assad terorists, to negotiate, and have elections. For FIFTY YEARS, the answer was MASS MURDER. No more;the opposition has NOW only got ONE demand; these assad monsters out. They will succeed !!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 18:00

      The Iranian regime adjusts elections to hold onto power. It has stolen the Iranian government from the Iranian people. It funds the Jihadist movement that has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, mainly Muslims in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. It is supporting Bashar Assad's brutal oppression of Syrians wanting nothing more than the right to vote. It supports the stoning of women. It openly calls for the elimination of Israel and denies the Holocaust, the single biggest attempt at human genocide in human history: six million people. It is dishonest, highly repressive, and self-serving at the expense of the Iranian people and humanity. It's days are numbered, and it knows this.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 20:21

      The West is hardly involved in Syria. Russia and Iran on the other hand are, heavily. They are going to pay a bigger price when Assad falls, and fall he will.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-08-10 21:00

      The only thing that the WEST did was show the downtrodden that they do not have to live under dictatorships and that freedom is good for the advancement of mankind.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-08-10 21:01

      There is nothing wrong with supporting those who wish to be free from the yoke of tyranny

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 22:25

      In fact it is only right to do so. Not to is to be irresponsible. This is what is so frustrating about the West's current inactive stance. It's irresponsible and unconscionable. Patrick doesn't see this at all, through his faulty anti-West lenses. Even when the West is not involved, he believes they are, to the point where he unwittingly supports raw oppression and tyranny.

  • kjanwar - 2012-08-10 10:38

    When would UN and West start talking about brutal suppression of Shiite majority by Sunni rulers of Bahrain,Kuwait and other Gulf States.

      ghengis.khan.585 - 2012-08-10 10:56

      When Hillary Clinton first came up with the Friends of Syria she called it 'The Democratic Friends of Syria' - this being Quatar, UAE, Bahrain, only to realise her blunder that none of these democratic friends of Syria were actually democracies. Therefore reverted to 'Friends of Syria'

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 16:07

      What has this got to do with Syrians trying to free themselves from decades of brutal tyranny? What are you doing to help them?

  • imam.madi.129 - 2012-08-10 11:04

    The rebel strategy of invading people's homes and hoping that the army will not attack them is high grade lunacy. They allow their country to be destroyed just to keep their western handlers happy, what a shame. Assad must go for the kill now, by the time the Obama loses in November and wants to kill for the last time, it will be too late for his terrorist friends, inshallah.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 16:05

      Um, a small reality check: Assad's forces are invading people's homes and butchering them. The blood of innocent Muslims being killed, maimed, tortured and raped by unelected dictators and Jihadists is on your hands.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-10 15:35

    Well done to the Syrian army for ridding Aleppo of terrorists. This must be a welcome relief to the citizen of this neighbourhood who have endured lawlessness by foreign armed militias.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 16:03

      Fidel believes Nelson Mandela is a phony, an Uncle Tom. See this on the US/Mandela thread. Nelson Mandela, one of the most revered leaders in the world. It is no surprise therefore that he supports the brutal, unelected dictator of Syria who is literally butchering Syrians and their families in their homes.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-10 17:31

      ""Democracy is: just a noisy circus every 4 or 5 years"" Fidel No wonder Fidel supports; --------------------- DICTATORS/TYRANTS/MASS MURDERERS------------------

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-10 17:55

      Anthony, I see that you also suffer from the "fred syndrome", posting the same rubbish on every thread.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 18:05

      "The same Mandela who fell right at the feet of his international manipulators, by allowing himself to be bribed with international cudos, flattery, visits and trinkets. The rehabilitation of the arch "terrorist" Mandela as an honourable international figure, a spokesperson and promoter of globalisation; Nobel Award, statues in London etc, sealed his status as the modern Uncle Tom." Direct quote from Fidel's post on the US/Mandela thread. His highly immature anti-West core belief even distorts his perception of Nelson Mandela, one of the most revered leaders in the world. Our Nelson Mandela.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-10 18:09

      Fidel, ""Democracy is: just a noisy circus every 4 or 5 years"" ""same RUBBISH on every thread"" Totally agree with you !!!.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-10 18:24

      You win the "by far most deluded comment I've read on News24 for a very long time" award. Congratulations!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 19:14

      Fidel is a member of the New Black Panthers, ironically a US based organization. It is racist to the extreme, as anti-White as the Klu Klux Klan is anti-Black.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-08-10 19:25

      Fidel, try this and see how stupid you sound: Well done to the Israeli army for ridding the west bank and Gaza of terrorists. This must be a welcome relief to the citizen of this neighbourhood who have endured lawlessness by foreign armed militias. I actually thought you were intelligent, but you just mindlessly take the part of any opposition to Israel and the USA, regardless of the right or wrong of the situation. Who do you back now, now that Ghadaffi is gone? are the Free Libya 'terrorists' still terrorists? When the Free Syria rebels finally oust the Assad government and install democracy in Syria, will you still bluster about them being terrorists, or will you watch the rest of the world celebrate their great achievement and sulk as a loser sulks. You will be mocked.

      Desilusionada - 2012-08-10 20:12

      So much for your conspiracy that the US is helping the "terrorists". Not a very good job they are doing is it? But they have the resources to "invade" Iraq. I suggest you go to Uncle Tom's Cabin and hide there while perhaps getting some idea of what oppression, violence and bloodshed really is all about and why people are prepared to die for freedom!!! Oh sorry wait, wait, sorry.... it is a "Western Construct", there is absolutely nothing happening in Syria.....

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-10 20:29

      Patrick, ""the Resident Bigoted Racist Jew on News 24 soiling this thread"" you and Fidel and your hangers on, have one common factor, besides HATRED AND FILTH; You are all a bunch of sick racists. Don't think, for one moment, you are an ince better than AWB members or those boeremag thugs !!!! You are all trash !!

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-08-10 21:04

      What did I say that deserves such racist rubbish to answer me in such a manner. YOU CANNOT ANSWER MY POST. Wanker.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-08-11 21:44

      I am not complaining. Just pointing out what a wanker you are. Do not expect anything else from you. Did you read my post? My game is that you debate with me. But you cannot because you are too busy pleasuring yourself.

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 16:01

    At the end of the day Assad will fall. And fall he should based on the decisions he has made again and again to use the Syrian people's military against them. It's just a matter of time.

      nhamo.dzenyika - 2012-08-10 17:10

      wishful thinking you hard-hearted Jew!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 18:06

      Nhamo, unfortunately you're an ignorant racist.

      imam.madi.129 - 2012-08-10 20:29

      Add, at the end of the day Arabs will continue to kill each other while you and other terrorist cheerleaders like Obama, Cameron, Hollande, Erdogan, Kings and Sheiks of Arabia. If Americans could shoot down a hijacked plane, why assad should not shoot at terrorists hijacking a true democracy movement of the people? I would say moer them assad!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 22:34

      It's all very well making things up, but it doesn't make them true. Where have I "cheered Arabs killing each other". You're believing your own made-up martyrdom. Break that yolk! It's demeaning to you and all of humanity. Then perhaps you will see that Assad is pretending to kill terrorists. While there are Jihadists present in Syria, the overwhelming movement is by the Syrian people from the Assad family's tyranny, to greater freedom and human rights. This is what Assad is killing, or more accurately trying to kill because he won't succeed. And this is what you are supporting.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-11 04:48

      . The common factor with radicals; --------------------HATRED------------------RACISM-------------------FILTH----------- .

  • imam.madi.129 - 2012-08-10 20:35

    Let assad roast the terrorists hiding behind women and children. Its a pity the embedded journalists of BBC/CNN/ALJAZEERA axis of disinformation are not targetted as much as they encourage killing of syrian patriotic journalists, that's a fair game, an eye for an eye, that's what the west understand better. Let them decided, do they want to be arsonists or firefighters, can't have it bothways.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-10 22:35

      The pity is the blindness you're inflicting on yourself.

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