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Syrian Troops Overrun City of Aleppo, Conflicting Claims Follow Crash of Military Jet

Syrian troops overrun rebellious district in Aleppo

DAMASCUS, Aug. 13, 2012 (Xinhua) --

Activists said Syrian troops backed by tanks and armored vehicles stormed a rebel-held district in the battered Aleppo city in northern Syria on Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces rolled intothe western part of the Saif al-Dawla neighbourhood of Aleppo, adding that the army units were backed with tanks and armored vehicles.

It said that clashes with rebel fighters have erupted in the area.

The Observatory also said several parts of the Salahuddien neighbourhood in Aleppo have been subject to bombardment by regime forces since early hours Monday.

Salhuddien was the first to fall in the hands of the rebels, who have been taking pains to make a foothold in Aleppo as a prelude to a Libyan-style scenario.

The bloody clashes in Aleppo have been raging on since three weeks ago when the rebels announced they have started a showdown to purge the area of government forces.

The state media, on daily bases, flaunt the army's victories in rooting out the insurgency from Aleppo, while the activists claim the rebels will keep on fighting.

The Aleppo battles are deemed by many as decisive and crucial in painting the features of the next stage in Syria, given the strategic importance of the city, which is located around 40 kilometres from the Turkish frontier.

Meanwhile, the Observatory said al-Tal suburb of the capital Damascus has been bombarded by regime forces that have been trying to regain control of the area.

The activists' group also reported clashes in some areas in the central Homs and eastern Deir al-Zour provinces.

It said 50 people have been killed across Syria on Monday, 31 of whom are unarmed civilians.

The activists' claim couldn't be checked independently.

Meantime, the state-run SANA news agency said a unit of Syrian forces pursued an "armed terrorist group" in Jouret al-Shayah area in Homs, killing a large number of "mercenary terrorists" and wounding others.

Syria brands the various groups of rebels as "terrorists" particularly after recent report that al-Qaida has joined the fight against the Syrian administration.

Meanwhile, authorities in Homs chased a group of armed terrorists who attacked civilians and properties near Souq al- Ghanam on al-Salamiyah-Homs highway, said SANA, adding that the clashes resulted in killing and wounding several gunmen.

Also in Homs, SANA said the authorities stormed a terrorists' den in Talbiseh area in Homs countryside and killed large numbers of terrorists.

SANA also said government forces have inflicted heavy toll on armed groups in coastal Latakia city and northwestern province of Idlib.

The head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) Gen Babacar Gaye said Monday that heavy clashes between government forces and the opposition are inflicting heavy losses on innocent civilians.

Gaye said none of the conflicting parties in Syria is caring about the civilians.

"It's clear that violence is increasing in many parts of Syria, the indiscriminate use of heavy weapon by the government and the targeted attacks by the opposition in urban centers are inflicting a heavy toll on innocent civilians," he said.


Conflicting claims follow crash of Syrian military jet

A Syrian military jet crashed in eastern Syria on Monday after reporting technical problems, state media reported, while anti-regime rebels claimed they had downed the plane and captured its pilot.

By William EDWARDS (video) News Wires (text)

France 24, August 13, 2012, AFP -

A group of Syrian rebels said they captured the pilot of a warplane that the Free Syrian Army claimed to have downed Monday in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

Syrian rights envoy defects

Syria's top representative to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) announced his defection on Monday, saying he could no longer do anything to help the Syrian people.

"Basically, when I felt I could not help my people any more I had to move on," Danny al-Baaj, the first Swiss-based Syrian diplomat to defect from Bashar al-Assad's regime, told AFP.

"When I was involved in any negotiations (on Syria) my concern was to protect the country, not the government," he added.

Baaj said he had been in contact with a Syrian opposition group, the Democratic Forum, which is based in Paris.

The move comes ahead of the Wednesday release of an official UNHRC independent report into events in Syria.

(Source: AFP)

A video distributed by the "Revolutionary Youth of the Land of the Euphrates" shows a man identified as pilot Mufid Mohammed Suleiman, surrounded by three armed men. "My mission was to bomb the town of Muhasen" in Deir Ezzor, said the man.

The man, who has a light beard and is wearing a dark blue shirt, is seated at a table. "The wounds on my face were caused by the strong wind that forced me on to stones after I ejected from my plane," he said.

"The revolutionaries have treated me well and they gave me first aid assistance," he added. "They are good people."

In the same video, a captain in uniform introduced himself as Abul Laith, chief of the Ahfad Mohammed (Mohammed's Descendants) Brigade. "We will treat this prisoner in accordance with our religion and our ethics and the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners."

On Monday, Syria's rebels claimed they downed a military warplane in Deir Ezzor province after state media said a jet had crashed after suffering technical problems.

"Yes, we can confirm that a MiG 21 has been downed," said Free Syrian Army spokesman Kassem Saadeddine. "It was hit with a 14.5 calibre anti-aircraft machinegun."

A Britain-based watchdog also backed the claim.

SYRIA Rebels urge world powers to impose no-fly zone

SYRIA Brahimi touted to replace Annan as Syria envoy

SYRIA Aleppo under fire as Arab League postpones talks

Date created : 13/08/2012

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