Middle East

Syria rebels fight for Aleppo police academy

Opposition uses captured tanks to assault strategic facility, as rebel leaders accuse Damascus regime of "genocide".
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2013 20:26
Syrian regime forces allegedly launched a series of "Scud-type" ballistic missile attacks in Aleppo districts [AFP]

Syrian rebels have used captured tanks to launch a fresh offensive on a government complex housing a police academy near Aleppo, sparking clashes with government troops over the strategic facility.

The military on Sunday responded with air strikes against the opposition forces.

Rebels have made a string of strategic victories over the past few weeks, especially in and around northern Syria, where Aleppo is located.

Syrian scud missiles have been shown on state television [Syria State TV]

Capturing the complex near Aleppo would be another blow to the regime that has in recent weeks lost control key infrastructure in the northeast including a hydroelectric dam, a major oil field and two army bases along the road linking Aleppo with the airport to its east.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said rebels have been trying for months to storm the complex west of Aleppo in the suburb of Khan al-Asal.

Rebels have also been trying for weeks to capture Aleppo's International Airport.

A senior Syrian opposition leader said on Sunday that the Syrian National Coalition, his political umbrella group, has suspended participation in meetings with its Western backers and their Arab allies because of their indifference over the regime's attacks on the Syrian people in Aleppo and in other cities.

'Real genocide'

"Assad has reached the stage of real genocide amid Arab silence and we renounce that,'' said George Sabra, vice president of the Syrian National Coalition. He spoke to reporters in Cairo after meeting the Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby.

A statement posted on the Facebook page of Sabra's opposition group on Friday said its leaders would not travel to Washington or Moscow for any talks to protest the international community's "silence over crimes committed by
the regime".

The statement also said that the opposition leaders would boycott a meeting next month in Rome of the Friends of Syria, which includes the United States and its European allies.

  Three surface-to-surface missiles fired by regime forces in Aleppo's Tariq al-Bab district have left 58 people dead [AFP]

On Friday, Syrian government forces launched fresh rockets at residential areas in eastern Aleppo, killing at least 37 people and destroying scores of homes.

The attacks, which were called "Scud-type" by activists due to the scale of destruction, has been the latest in a series of strikes that appear to be conducted with the ground-to-ground Russian-made ballistic missile.

"The number of victims is more than 30 people and more than 50 houses are destroyed in this area alone," the Reuters news agency has quoted a Syrian opposition source as saying.

"And behind these houses there are more than 25 destroyed houses. And in this house we hold out things for a girl lost her family," he said.  

"Six from her family were killed and she is alone she is three years old and thank God she survived. And now the
young ones are taking things out [from the house] and taking them to her uncle. This girl's life has been destroyed by Bashar al-Assad, by Iran, by Russia. And we have only our god."

On Tuesday, activists said at least 33 people were killed when a large missile of the same type as the Scud missile hit the district of Jabal Badro.


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