Syria: The Battle for Damascus and Aleppo

Syria: The Battle for Damascus and Aleppo

San Francisco : CA : USA | Aug 02, 2012 at 3:58 AM PDT
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UN Fears Massacre in Aleppo

With a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution, drafted by Arab states, scheduled for Friday, the battle continues in Syria's major cities of Damascus and Aleppo. The resolution would call for President Bashar Assad to step down and hand over power to a transitional government.

Reports during the past few days have indicated that the Assad regime has no intention of stepping down and has instead stepped up its attacks in Aleppo.

Aleppo is a city of 3 million people, most of them still in the city, where food water and electricity have become scarce. There have also been indications that human rights abuses and war crimes are being committed by both sides.

There are fears that the Syrian conflict, which has been raging since March 2011, could become protracted like the 15 year conflict in Lebanon. The conflict cannot be looked upon as an isolated conflict, but has implications throughout the region.

The Iranian regime is a staunch supporter of President Bashar Assad and sees the conflict as an uprising, where terrorists are trying to topple the legal government of Syria.

Press TV, an English news network, owned by the state owned media corporation, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRB) reports that Syrian troops have stormed a rebel command centre in Aleppo, killing 150.

"Press TV's correspondent in Syria says calm has returned to Aleppo and Syrian forces have cleared most areas of the city of armed gangs although clashes are still continuing on the outskirts.

Sausan Ghosheh, the spokeswoman for the UN observer mission in Syria, has said that anti-government rebels operating in Aleppo are in possession of heavy weapons, including tanks. Some reports also suggest that the rebels have obtained nearly two dozen shoulder-launched Sam missiles.

The terrorist Free Syrian Army has vowed to step up its attack in Aleppo by targeting the city's security centers. Source: Press TV"

The article demonized the Syrian Free Army and nations that allegedly supply weapons to the "so called terrorists." It claims that armed groups have been fighting in Aleppo since July 20th, after they were defeated in Damascus.

According to the Assad regime, Rebels are committing horrific crimes against civilians in Aleppo and Damascus. The regime has sent a letter to the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General.

"Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said on Tuesday that the rebels, who are backed and funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, are using civilians in Aleppo as human shields and killing anyone who does not support their crimes. Source: Press TV"

At least one atrocity by the rebels appears to be confirmed in a BBC report, which shows an apparent public shooting of four Assad loyalists. Human rights activists have condemned the shooting. The head of the UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights categorized the shootings as "criminal," while Russia said that it showed there were human rights abuses on both sides.

This morning reports indicate that the Syrian Free Army has bombarded a military air base in Aleppo, using a tank captured government troops. Activists near Damascus are reporting that the regime has unleashed new raids against opposition fighters near the capital.

Aleppo is of strategic importance to the Syrian Free Army (SFA). Its proximity to Turkey, could open the way for resupply from Turkey and create a stronghold similar to Benghazi in Libya. The Assad regime will do its utmost to prevent the Aleppo control by the SFA.

It is unlikely that any resolution will be passed by the UN Security Council, although the General Assembly may very well pass a resolution drafted by the Arab states on Friday. Without any meat behind it it will be a token resolution only.

With Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, the unrest in Syria and Israel's fear for its security, the Syrian crisis is a dilemma for the U.S. Administration.

While the U.S. can work on reassuring its ally Israel, for the time being tougher sanctions, short of a military action are the only way to attempt to stop Iran from its pursuit. As far as Syria is concerned the U.S. needs to get Russia and China on side. Military intervention in Syria would be a dangerous venture.

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The Crisis in Syria escalates, with both sides being accused of human rights abuses
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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  • 	Aleppo is of strategic importance to the SFA due to its proximity to Turkey

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