31 July 2012
The number of Turkish correspondents wounded in an ongoing government crackdown on the uprising in Syria has increased.
Sinan Gül, a correspondent for the Turkish state-run Anatolia news agency, was shot in the leg in Aleppo, where fierce clashes between opposition fighters and government forces have escalated in recent days.
Gül was taken to Dar al-Shifa Hospital in Aleppo by opposition fighters, who then later helped him cross the border into Turkey's Kilis province. Turkish ambulances on the border brought Gül to Kilis State Hospital, where doctors say he is in stable condition.
Samet Doğan and Kenan Yeşilyurt, two other Anatolia correspondents, were wounded in clashes between groups fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and Assad's soldiers. On Tuesday, they managed to escape the violence and make it to a safer area.
Al Jazeera correspondent Ömer Haşram was wounded by a bomb explosion in Syria. He was first taken to the emergency room of Gaziantep Özel Sani Konukoğlu Hospital and then transferred to the intensive care unit in the same hospital. Doctors reported him to be in stable condition.
“The clashes were ongoing. We were recording them. A bomb exploded in an apartment three meters away from us. We continued recording … and then a second bomb exploded. When we got in our car, a third one exploded behind the car. Ömer said he was wounded,” said Al Jazeera cameraman Hakan Baygıner, who was with Haşram at the time he was wounded.
Baygıner added: “There are always clashes and explosions. We have never seen Assad's soldiers. We were always with opponents of Assad's regime. In every neighborhood, there is at least one group of opponents. The situation is difficult for all of the people. People wait many hours to buy bread. Living in Syria was tough for us as well.”
Source: Today's Zaman
PARIS – France's president has called on Russia and China to consider the chaos he says will ensue if the U.N. Security Council is unable to act on Syria soon.
Francois Hollande called on the two Security Council members to "take into consideration ... that it will be chaos and civil war if at some moment (Syrian President) Bashar Assad isn't stopped."
Russia and China have vetoed the Council's efforts to ramp up pressure on Assad.
Hollande — speaking in an interview aired on the iTele TV news station Saturday — called for the UN to move "as quickly as possible" over the degenerating situation in the country, and said Assad "will use force to the end."
Assad's regime is reportedly in the midst of an assault on Syria's largest city Aleppo.
Source: Fox News
BEIRUT: Syrian rebels attacked key military targets and overran two police stations in Aleppo, killing 40 officers, a watchdog said, as the pivotal battle for the commercial capital raged on Tuesday.
Clashes between the rebels and loyalists of President Bashar al-Assad were also reported in the capital Damascus, the eastern city of Deir Ezzor and Daraa in the south, cradle of the more than 16-month uprising.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Aleppo was on Tuesday rocked by the fiercest fighting of a military offensive on rebels in the city, which came after the government had warned of a looming "mother of all battles."
Rebels used rocket-propelled grenades in pre-dawn attacks on a military court, an air force intelligence headquarters and a branch of the ruling Baath Party in Aleppo, said the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman.
Later, "hundreds of rebels attacked the police stations in Salhin and Bab al-Nayrab (neighbourhoods) and at least 40 policemen were killed during the fighting, which lasted for hours," Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The police chief was among those killed at the Salhin station in the south of the city, while three vehicles were destroyed, he added.
The attacks came as the UN observer mission said government forces were using helicopters, tanks and artillery to fight the rebels, while appealing for both sides to protect civilians in the city of 2.7 million people.
Through the night, government troops had shelled the neighbourhoods of Salaheddin, Marjeh, Firdoss, Al-Mashhad, Sakhur, Al-Shaar and Ansari, before the army and rebels clashed at dawn in Al-Meesr and Al-Adaa.
A security official in Damascus told AFP on Monday that the army had regained some of Salaheddin but it was facing "a very strong resistance." The rebels, however, denied that the army had advanced even "one metre" (yard).
"The fierce fighting in Aleppo shows how crucial this city is for a regime that does not want a Benghazi in Syria," said Abdel Rahman, referring to the coastal city secured by Libyan rebels as a base in their fight to bring down strongman Moamer Kadhafi. Gunmen from loyalist Arab tribes in Aleppo, including the al-Berri family, had joined the fray and were fighting alongside the army.
"All of this links back to calls by Syrian media and talking heads on some Lebanese satellite stations that loyal Syrian citizens should take up arms and fight with the regime troops," Abdel Rahman added.
Rebels on Monday seized the strategic Anadan checkpoint, some five kilometres (3.8 miles) northwest of Aleppo, securing a direct route to the Turkish border.
"During the next few hours, the impact of rebel control over this checkpoint will be proven by the amount of supplies brought to Aleppo," said Abdel Rahman.
The fight for Aleppo erupted on Saturday when the regime launched an all-out offensive to overrun rebel-held districts, after massing its forces on the city's outskirts for two days. United Nations mission chief Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye said he was "deeply concerned about the ongoing violence from both sides in Aleppo."
"My observers there have reported an upsurge in the violence, with helicopters, tanks and artillery being used," the Senegalese general said. "It is imperative that both sides respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians."
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said an estimated 200,000 people had fled from Aleppo in two days and that an unknown number were still trapped in the city. Many people in Aleppo had sought shelter in schools and other public buildings.
"They urgently need food, mattresses and blankets, hygiene supplies and drinking water," she said. The Observatory, which reported 93 people killed across Syria on Monday, says it cannot swiftly give an authoritative death toll for the fierce battles in Aleppo.
Elsewhere in Syria, clashes erupted in multiple districts of Deir Ezzor city, including near a police station, while one civilian was killed by sniper fire, the Observatory said.
In the southern province of Daraa, regime troops shelled a camp for displaced persons as the towns of Tafas and Al-Ghariyeh also came under shelling, leaving an unknown number of casualties.
Clashes and the sound of explosions were reported at the University of Idlib in the northwestern city. US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone Monday "to coordinate efforts to accelerate a political transition in Syria," the White House said.
Obama and Erdogan shared their concerns over the crackdown "and the deteriorating humanitarian conditions throughout Syria as a result of the regime's atrocities."
On Tuesday, Iran's military said it will "not allow the enemy to advance" in its key ally Syria, but that it does not yet see the need to directly intervene in the country.
More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since the anti-regime revolt began in March 2011, according to the Observatory. There is no way to independently verify the figure, while the UN has stopped keeping count.
Source: The Himalayan
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(CBS News) IDLIB, Syria - For Syria's rebels fighting in the civil war, there is little to no formal medical care on the battlefield. A CBS News crew got a rare interview with one of the ad-hoc medical teams filling the void.
Driving an ambulance they seized from the Syrian government, a small group of
volunteers are on a dangerous mission, speeding past Syrian military positions to reach rebel fighters. They asked for anonymity for fear that the Syrian government will punish their families
They call themselves the "Medical Battalion," but even the most senior member of the team, who goes by the name Shamil, isn't a doctor. He was about to graduate from medical school when he arrested by the government for helping the opposition. In Syria now, an "almost-doctor" is better than no doctor at all.
"I know if we didn't help the people, who can help?" Shamil said. "This is our job, my job, so I must help." The volunteers have set up a string of makeshift clinics and, crucially, a communication network. The men have given out radios to different towns and people call when they have a problem.
"We go there. Like [the town] Kafar a Takharim," Shamil said. When fierce fighting broke out in that town two weeks ago, the medical battalion carried out as many of the wounded as they could. Many were children caught in the cross fire. Many of them didn't make it.
Abu Assad trained as a veterinarian before joining the volunteer medics. He said the sights and sounds of war have dried his tears. When asked if he no longer gets emotional, Abu Assad responded: "Inside myself, if I think of the situation of my country of my people, we can't stop cry, I have to cry. We try, we try to stop but we can't."
So they don't stop. One day, the mission was to deliver these emergency medical kits to rebel fighters in the area. They used back roads and stopped when locals warned them that Syrian government tanks had blocked the road ahead. The team took shelter in a local home and prayed.
They are building makeshift clinics as fast as they can smuggle supplies across the border with Turkey, but there is one shortage that they can't overcome. "We need doctors, especially surgical doctors," Shamil said, adding that it was difficult to find them because a lot of them are scared.
For now, the best they can do is to spend a few minutes teaching first aid before getting back on the dangerous road to the next village. In the midst of this vicious civil war, a lone ambulance offers people some hope for a better future.
A lot of civilians are being treated by these rebel medics. That's one of the major challenges they face. They're not just looking to treat wounded rebel fighters, they're looking to provide an almost alternative health care system for all civilians who are living in rebel-held territory and who do not have access to government-run hospitals.
Source: CBS News
30 July 2012
Turkish state-run news agency Anatolia correspondent Sinan Gül was hit in the leg in Syria's Aleppo city where fierce clashes between opposition fighters and the government forces escalated in recent days.
Gül was taken to Dar Asshifa Hospital in Aleppo by opposition fighters. Gül was then brought to Turkey's Kilis province by the opposition fighters.
Turkish ambulances on the border brought Gül to Kilis State Hospital. Doctors say that the health situation of Gül is good and not life-threatening.
Gül has been covering the crisis in Aleppo for fifteen days.
Source: Today's Zaman
The Syrian military stepped up its campaign to drive rebel fighters out of Aleppo, but rebels said they were still holding firm in the country's biggest city, which they have vowed to turn into the ''grave of the regime''.
Opposition activists denied a government declaration that its forces had recaptured the Salaheddine district, in southwest Aleppo, straddling the most obvious route for Syrian troop reinforcements coming from the south.
Hospitals and makeshift clinics in rebel-held eastern neighbourhoods were filling up with casualties from a week of fighting in the city, a commercial hub that had previously stayed out of a 16-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
''Some days we get around 30, 40 people, not including the bodies,'' said a young medic in one clinic. ''A few days ago we got 30 injured and maybe 20 corpses, but half of those bodies were ripped to pieces. We can't figure out who they are.''
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 40 people, 30 of them civilians, were killed in Syria on Monday. Two rebel fighters died in Salaheddine.
Outgunned rebel fighters, patrolling in flat-bed trucks flying green-white-and-black ''independence'' flags, said they were holding out in Salaheddine despite a battering by the army's heavy weapons and helicopter gunships.
A fighter jet flew overhead, a reminder of the overwhelming military advantage still enjoyed by government forces 16 months into the uprising.
''We always knew the regime's grave would be Aleppo,'' said Mohammed, a young fighter, fingering the bullets in his tattered brown ammunition vest. ''Damascus is the capital, but here we have a fourth of the country's population and the entire force of its economy. Bashar's forces will be buried here.''
So far, however, the government's superiority on the ground means rebels have had little success in holding on to urban territory. The rebels made a major push into Damascus two weeks ago, but were later driven out.
An unidentified Syrian army officer said on state television yesterday that troops had pushed ''those mercenary gunmen'' completely out of Salaheddine, adding: ''In a few days, safety and security will return to the city of Aleppo.''
Reuters journalists in Aleppo have been unable to approach Salaheddine to verify who controls it.
The army's assault on Salaheddine echoed its tactics in Damascus earlier this month when it used its overwhelming firepower to mop up rebel fighters district by district.
Assad's forces are determined not to let go of Aleppo, where defeat would be a serious strategic and psychological blow.
Military experts believe the rebels are too lightly armed and poorly commanded to overcome the army, whose artillery pounds the city at will and whose gunships control the skies.
''Yesterday they were shelling the area at a rate of two shells a minute. We couldn't move at all,'' said a man calling himself a spokesman for the ''Aleppo Revolution'' group. ''It's not true at all that the regime's forces are in Salaheddine.''
Warfare has stilled the usual commercial bustle in this city of 2.5 million. Vegetable markets are open but few people are buying. Instead, crowds of sweating men and women wait nearly three hours to buy limited amounts of heavily subsidised bread.
In a city where loyalties have been divided, with sections of the population in favour of the Assad government, some seemed wary of speaking out in the presence of the fighters, many of whom have been drafted in from surrounding areas.
Asked about his allegiances, one man waiting at a police station that had been badly damaged by shellfire said: ''We are not with anyone. We are on the side of truth.''
Asked whose side that was, he replied: ''Only God.''
Others stopped members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and asked them to do something about the supply of bread and petrol.
Rebel fighters remain in control of swathes of the city, moving around those areas armed with assault rifles and dressed in items of camouflage clothing in an edgy show of confidence.
They were emboldened to strike at Aleppo and central Damascus by a July 18 explosion that killed four of Assad's top security officials.
The rebels include small numbers of foreign fighters drawn from other Arab countries, commanders in northwest Syria say. Some rebel checkpoints in Aleppo were flying black and white banners of Islamist militants.
BIG POWERS DIVIDED
With big powers divided, the outside world has been unable to restrain Syria's slide into civil war.
The only international military presence is a small, unarmed UN observer mission. A convoy carrying the head of the mission was attacked on Sunday and only the vehicles' armour prevented injuries, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
He gave no further details of the attack. UN officials said on condition of anonymity that the convoy of five vehicles was hit by small arms fire in Talibisa, some 17 km from Homs, in what they said was an opposition-held area.
France said it would ask for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to try to break the diplomatic deadlock on Syria, but gave no indication that Russia and China would end their long-standing policy of blocking measures against Assad.
In London, Syria's most senior diplomat resigned because he could no longer represent a government that committed such ''violent and oppressive acts'' against its own people, the British Foreign Office said. Charge d'affaires Khaled al-Ayoubi joins a growing number of senior Syrian officials who have defected.
The deputy police chief of Latakia, a city in western Syria, also defected and fled to Turkey overnight with 11 other Syrian officers, a Turkish official said. Some 600 Syrians had arrived in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees in Turkey to about 43,500, he added.
Amid growing concern about security on its frontier, Turkey sent at least four convoys of troops, missile batteries and armoured vehicles to the border with Syria.
There has been no indication that Turkish forces will cross the border, and the troop movements may just be precautionary in the face of worsening violence in Syria.
A high-ranking officer in one of the convoys called the deployment ''part of a training exercise''.
The United Nations humanitarian chief said 200,000 people had fled Aleppo, only 50km from the Turkish border, in two days. It was not clear how this estimate had been reached given the difficulty of assessing relief needs in war zones.
Assad's ruling system is dominated by his minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, while his opponents are mostly from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority. The sectarian element in the conflict has raised fears that it could inflame Sunni-Shi'ite tensions elsewhere across the Middle East.
Source: stuff / video reuters
A member of the Free Syrian Army holds a cat at Anadan in Aleppo July 29, 2012. Picture taken July 29, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Shaam News Network/Handout
The rebel banner of independence waves over the scorched streets and gutted cars that litter the urban battlegrounds of Aleppo, scars of a struggle in Syria's second largest city that fighters believe they are destined to win within weeks.
The scruffy, rifle-wielding youths are undeterred by the fate of equally bold, but ultimately crushed campaigns by rebels in the capital Damascus or in Homs, the bloody epicenter of the 16-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
Careening through streets ripped up by army tanks on their motorbikes and flatbed trucks, young rebels with camouflage pants and Kalashnikovs patrol their newly acquired territory, which stretches from the outskirts of Aleppo in the northeast and sweeps around the city down to the southwestern corner.
"We always knew the regime's grave would be Aleppo. Damascus is the capital, but here we have a fourth of the country's population and the entire force of its economy. Bashar's forces will be buried here," said Mohammed, a young fighter, fingering the bullets in his tattered brown ammunition vest.
The government has also predicted victory in the fight to control Syria's main commercial city. For days, the government has massed its forces for a major onslaught that has yet to come. Rebels say it is proof the government doesn't have the ability to storm their territory.
The truth could lie somewhere in between: A state of limbo in Syria's economic centre, paralyzed by artillery fire and an insurgency that has made its home in the narrow, ramshackle alleyways on the poor outskirts of the ancient city.
"WE CAN TAKE THE CITY"
Mohammed and a group of fighters take refuge from the stifling heat in a dark safe house hidden down a crumbling Aleppo alleyway. They pore over a map of the city spread over the floor, tracing the neighborhoods controlled by rebels.
"We have made a semicircle around the city, and we can push in to the centre. Up in the north, the Kurdish groups are running two neighborhoods in the northern central part of the city. We don't work together, but we don't fight," said a fighter called Bara.
"I really believe that within ten days or more, we have a chance to take the city."
But across town, the smoking wreckage of the Salaheddine district in the south tells a different story. Bodies lay in the streets on Sunday as the army pounded fighters with artillery and mortars and helicopter gunships fired from above.
"We don't know if they are going to try to finish the area off or if they are distracting us, and then come shell us again here in the east of town," said Ahmed, a chain smoking activist, cigarettes as he debated with fighters insisting victory was near.
Salaheddine is the main artery out of the city and onto the highway that leads south to Damascus. State troops seem to have concentrated all their forces on wresting it from the rebels.
If the army, which retains overwhelming military superiority with helicopter gunships, rockets, artillery and tanks, cannot secure Salaheddine enough to get tanks on the ground, it would have to bring tanks into the city by going all the way around the province and entering from the other side, because minor roads on the city outskirts are mined by the rebels.
Both sides are trying to avoid using manpower. The army bombards from afar with its tanks or its helicopters hovering overhead. Rebels set up homemade bombs to blow up the tanks when they try to roll in.
On the eastern side of the city, the wounded pour in daily to Dar al-Shifa, a private hospital turned into a rebel clinic. Poorly equipped medics pick out shrapnel from young men's legs.
"Some days we get around 30, 40 people, not including the bodies," says a young medic at the clinic. "A few days ago we got in 30 injured and maybe 20 corpses but half of those bodies were ripped to pieces. We can't figure out who they are."
Abdulsamea al-Ahmad is a medical assistant but has had to run the hospital since rebels took the area.
"The doctors refuse to come. They are too afraid the regime will come back and they will be arrested. But I can't leave, I can't leave people to suffer. God willing, we will all keep up our sacrifices until victory is finally secured."
Outside the hospital, the fighters are confident as they strut through the streets and nod at passers-by. some smile and wave. Most stare at the ground and quickly walk by. Few are given an opportunity to speak privately with journalists.
In the neighborhoods they hold, rebels have confidently scrawled the word "liberated" on the walls, but there are signs of the anxieties lurking below. One fighter flies into a rage when he sees two boys climbing on a demolished tank.
"You dogs! Are you spies? What are you doing? Get out of here," he shouts, shaking his rifle, as they back away slowly.
Some gunmen, wearing white and black Islamic headbands, stop traffic at junctions, guarded by men with heavy machineguns squatting nearby. Above them flutters a makeshift green, white and black independence flag, red stars drawn across the middle with marker pen.
"The situation is really great, because we finally managed to liberate all of al-Bab city nearby. The fighters are moving on and we are now concentrating all our efforts on central Aleppo," said Khalid al-Shamsi, a short, chubby rebel commander with a Kalashnikov over each shoulder.
"Reinforcements and supplies are on the way towards us from al-Bab and other areas."
Shamsi's Khattab battalion is part of the Tawhid brigade that controls broad commercial avenues just outside Aleppo's ancient citadel and historic vaulted souks.
The rebels, who have vowed to "liberate Aleppo", detained scores of Syrian officers, soldiers and pro-government militiamen last week in Idlib province in the city of Aleppo.
"Now the fighters can come into the centre from all over. The more Assad brings in reinforcements, the more we will. We will not withdraw from Aleppo, we will fight with our very last drop of blood," shouted the commander.
"God is great!" respond his fighters gathering around him.
Markets are open, and vendors lay out their vegetables and fruits on wooden tables under umbrellas near the highway. But only a few women in dark coats and veils linger to shop during the fasting holy month of Ramadan.
Most residents can be found in the bread lines. Crowds of sweating men and women queue around the block, waiting for nearly three hours for three packets of subsidized bread.
"God knows what is coming to us. They keep saying the situation is getting better, that we are heading towards victory, but I'm afraid things will get uglier and uglier," said one resident, speaking discreetly when fighters escorting Reuters journalists were not looking.
The government seems to expect it will be back. Water and electricity run normally. It allows supplies of flour for subsidized bread to enter rebel areas as normal.
NO GRAND STRATEGY
Fighters insist they have a right to be confident where their comrades have failed.
"In Homs, the city was too carved up by army sites. In Damascus, the guys couldn't protect their own backs. The countryside was still occupied. Here, we spent months fighting to free the countryside around us. We have plenty of support and supply routes," said another fighter called Bara, who joined fighters hiding out to inspect the Aleppo map.
"I admit it was no grand strategy but random chance that we saw we'd liberated almost all of the countryside and we could reinforce ourselves, maybe as well as the regime can," he said.
Even if the rebels estimation is right, the cost of "liberation" is clear: Buildings have been ripped open by artillery shells and mortar bombs. Concrete, shattered glass and piles of trash spill into the streets.
Stepping out into the oppressive summer heat, the fighter Mohammed says the destruction is a fair price for freedom. Even if the government fights it way back into his area again, the rebels say they will claim victory as long as they can survive.
"They can destroy our town, we will keep fighting if they flatten it all," he said. "Didn't the Germans destroy parts of Britain in World War II? But the British still won in the end. And believe me, we will never stop."
Overhead, a helicopter gunship buzzes above a rebel checkpoint a few miles away. It circles above slowly before unleashing a barrage of gunfire.
"There is nothing we can do against their air power," Mohammed says. "But still, even if they storm Salaheddine, all they will have done is secured their own reinforcements. They won't have won. The street wars will begin again."
Residents seem to be bracing for that eventuality. Fighters estimate about 80 percent of residents in the outer districts of eastern Aleppo have fled. And still, dozens of trucks loaded with children and mattresses raced down the road, shouting out their destination to fighters who waved them on.
"God protect you," the rebels call out to them.
As night falls, the army bombardment erupts again. Blasts of artillery break the evening silence, and the sounds of the gathering storm creep closer.
is poised to become the largest single donor of humanitarian aid to Syria after raising US$72.3 million (Dh265.5m) in a special nationwide fund-raising drive last week. The funds will nearly double the money now available to provide basic services such as food, shelter, clean water and health care inside Syria and to the 120,252 Syrian refugees who have been registered by the United Nations in neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Khaled Khalifa, regional head for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Abu Dhabi, said he expected Saudi authorities to announce within days that they will be turning over the full amount raised last week to aid organisations participating in UN-coordinated operations in Syria. They will then decide what aid agencies will receive the funds and how they will be used, he said.
Mr Khalifa said the Saudi fund-raising drive, which was launched by King Abdullah on July 22, was particularly valuable because the money had already been collected, which meant help could reach the needy more quickly.
"This is actual money collected in the street," he said.
The relief aid raised last week is not the only Saudi aid moving towards Syria
. The Riyadh government is said to be already channelling funds to rebels fighting to overthrow the government in Damascus.
Last week's fund-raiser for humanitarian aid was fuelled by hours of nightly television coverage that featured Saudi children in queues waiting to turn over their families' cash donations to volunteer tellers and SUVs lined up bumper-to-bumper at Riyadh's Prince Faisal bin Fahd Malaz Stadium waiting to unload blankets, rice, dates and other donations.
Saudi Telecom Company, Zain, and other mobile telephone companies opened special lines that allowed users to their contributions by text message. The National Commercial Bank allowed customers to donate through their usual phone banking services or through an online portal.
Other Saudi businesses rallied, too. "In solidarity with our brothers in Syria . . . We will donate [all of what we take in] on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday," one restaurant in Riyadh announced on its Twitter.
Elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf, the UAE has already donated $3.25m to the UN's Syria aid effort. On Saturday, Qatar launched a telethon under the slogan "We all are for Syria."
The United States, meanwhile, gave $100m last week to Jordan to help it care for Syrian refugees.
Despite the amount of money raised during the Saudi fund-raising campaign, the logistical task of reaching needy Syrians with the money remains daunting.
Conditions in Syria have deteriorated drastically in recent months as fighting between government forces and rebels opposed to the government of Bashar Al Assad has escalated. More than 20,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Syria since the anti-Assad revolt began in Marchlast year, according to theLondon-based Observatory for Human Rights.
Strapped for resources, local aid groups have sometimes been forced to choose between needy areas, transferring resources to those places with the heaviest fighting, said Raefah Makki, a spokesman for the International Federation of the Red Cross in Lebanon.
A six-point peace plan proposed by Kofi Annan, the UN special envoy, calls for the creation of a neutral corridor for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Until there is more safety for the aid groups delivering help in Syria, the need will soar. At the moment, any help would be welcome, said Ausama Monajed, a spokesman for the opposition Syrian National Council.
Syrians "need any assistance they can get", he said.
Source: The National
Syrian rebel fighters celebrate after capturing a checkpoint in the village of Anadan, about five kilometres northwest of Aleppo, on July 30 2012, after a 10-hour battle. Photo/AFP
As fighting raged for Syria's commercial capital Aleppo on Monday, at least 12 people were killed in violence elsewhere, seven of them civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A teenage boy was killed by sniper fire in Madamiyeh al-Sham, outside Damascus, where troops set up checkpoints during the night, the Britain-based watchdog said.Unidentified gunmen assassinated civilian pilot Firas Ibrahim al-Safi on the road to Damascus airport, it added. The pilot's father, General Ibrahim al-Safi "held senior positions in the military leadership under president Hafez al-Assad," late father of incumbent Bashar al-Assad.
In Daraa province, south of the capital, three rebel fighters were killed in clashes with troops, while sniper fire killed a civilian, the Observatory said.In the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, pre-dawn gunfire killed a civilian in the town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border. One soldier was killed in Damascus province and one in Idlib in the northwest.
In the central province of Homs, regime forces kept up their shelling of the rebel-held town of Rastan."Two civilians were killed today when their house was shelled," the Observatory said, adding that several neighbourhoods of Homs city were also shelled."Every quarter of an hour, a blast is heard in Homs."
The new head of the UN observer mission in Syria said he saw heavy shelling of Homs during a Sunday field visit and major damage in Rastan."During my visit to Homs, I was personally able to witness heavy shelling from artillery and mortars ongoing in the neighbourhoods of the city," Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye told reporters.
"Rastan was heavily damaged by an intensive shelling campaign and fierce fighting," Gaye said.
An activist in Rastan said fighters of the rebel Free Syrian Army had seized a major checkpoint on the road between the town and Homs."The regime's major focus is now on Aleppo, and the FSA in Homs is taking advantage of that," the activist said.
"Now there's only one checkpoint separating our town from the city of Homs," said the activist, who identified himself as Abu Rawan.Syria's official SANA news agency said troops had "cleansed" the central Qarabis district of Homs of "terrorists."
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said: "Regime forces took control on Sunday night of new sections of the Qarabis district. The regime now controls about 70 percent of the district."
The Observatory says the rebels still control 40 percent of Homs as a whole, including most of the central Old City.
Source: Daily Nation
Another prominent Syrian diplomat has resigned from his post to protest the brutal crackdown on opponents by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad after more than 15,000 people have died in 16 months of clashes.
While Khaled al-Ayoubi, Syria’s former top envoy in London, has not officially defected yet, he is reportedly believed to be contemplating such a measure.
“Mr. al-Ayoubi has told us that he is no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people and is, therefore, unable to continue in his position,” Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement.
“Mr. al-Ayoubi was the most senior Syrian diplomat serving in London," the UK government added. "His departure is another blow to the Assad regime. It illustrates the revulsion and despair the regime’s actions are provoking amongst Syrians from all walks of life, inside the country and abroad. We urge others around Bashar Al-Assad to follow Mr. al-Ayoubi’s example -- to disassociate themselves from the crimes being committed against the Syrian people and to support a peaceful and free future for Syria.”
Source: International Business Times