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Syria claims gains in Aleppo

[ 2012-07-31 11:10] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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Syrian government forces mounted new ground attacks against rebel-controlled neighborhoods in Syria's commercial hub of Aleppo, the state media said on Monday, but failed to dislodge the opposition from their strongholds, according to activists.

The Syrian army has massed its forces around Aleppo, where rebels hold several neighborhoods after a 10-day offensive, and has been pounding it with tanks and helicopter gunships. There have also been periodic incursions of government tanks but the rebels have held on to their gains.

This use of heavy weapons, particularly helicopters, is just another nail in President Bashar al-Assad's coffin, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said late on Sunday during a stopover in Tunisia as he kicked off a Middle East tour expected to focus heavily on the unfolding crisis in Syria.

Already an estimated 200,000 civilians - almost 10 percent of the population - have fled the fighting in Aleppo, according to the UN official for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, citing the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent.

Aleppo is Syria's largest city with around 3 million inhabitants.

Syrian state media reported late on Sunday that the army had "purged" Aleppo's southwestern neighborhood of Salaheddine and inflicted "great losses" upon the rebels in one of the first districts they took control of in their bid to seize the city.

Activists, however, disputed the claim and just described another day of fierce shelling of certain areas, backed up by the occasional foray on the ground.

"They have tanks in nearby Hamdaniya and there is fighting, and there have been random bombardments of Salaheddine," said Mohammed Saeed, who is based in the embattled city.

Assad's regime has been plagued by a string of defections, including three high ranking diplomats and several military commanders. On Monday, a Turkish official announced that a Syrian brigadier general who was deputy chief of police in Syria's Latakia region, had defected.

The general was among a group of 12 Syrian officers who crossed into Turkey late on Sunday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of Turkish government rules. His defection raises the number of generals to have left for Turkey since the start of the 17-month-old uprising to 28.

But Syria's army remains mostly intact and still vastly outguns the rag-tag rebel army, which is armed for the most part with assault rifles, machine guns and doesn't have the heavy weapons necessary to effectively oppose tanks and helicopter gunships.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Syria claims gains in Aleppo

About the broadcaster:

Syria claims gains in Aleppo

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.