Sun July 29, 2012
Heavy Weapons Pound Syrian Rebels As Nations Accuse Each Other
Originally published on Sun July 29, 2012 11:39 am
Fighting continues in Aleppo, Syria's largest city on Sunday while accusations of meddling – and pleas to meddle more – are flying on the international stage.
According to Guardian correspondent Luke Harding, reporting from Aleppo province, the rebels are holding their own but are ultimately outmatched against government forces using heavy weaponry. He quotes a rebel commander who "was relatively pessimistic about the Free Syrian Army's chances of fending off repeated attacks":
"'The FSA has several hundred soldiers stationed inside Aleppo, and in total a bigger force in the area of around 2000. The regime has 100 tanks, we estimate, and about another 400 troop carriers and armoured vehicles. They also have 43 buses of Shabiha that have been brought inside Aleppo, with around 1500 soldiers. And the regime has helicopters.'"
On Sunday, the leader of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, pleaded for support from the international community in the form of heavy weapons, as Reuters reports:
"The rebels are fighting with primitive weapons...We want weapons that we can stop tanks and planes with. This is what we want," SNC chief Abdelbasset Seida said in Abu Dhabi.
It's that kind of support that the Syrian regime blasted, accusing nearby nations of trying to destroy their countries, as the AP says:
"Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, on a visit to Iran, leveled some rare public criticism of Sunni powers in the Middle East, saying Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are supporting a plot hatched by Israel to destroy Syria. The three countries have all been backing rebels trying to overthrow authoritarian President Bashar Assad."
Russia also blamed Syria's neighbors on Saturday, as The New York Times notes, and included Western countries which "encourage, support and direct the armed fight against the regime," as Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov said.
Meanwhile, civilians continue to flee Aleppo. Jordan has just opened a refugee camp a few kilometers from the border, the BBC says.