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Violence rages as peace envoy claims Syria toll 'staggering'

DAMASCUS--Syrian troops backed by artillery and warplanes fought rebels on multiple fronts Wednesday as peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi described the death toll as “staggering” and destruction “catastrophic.”

In the diplomatic arena, President Bashar al-Assad came under renewed fire from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said Syria had become a “terrorist state,” and from Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who told him to go.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighter jets bombed rebel zones in the northern city of Aleppo before dawn while ground troops simultaneously unleashed a barrage of shells.

After the bombardment, the bodies of at least 19 people were found, among them seven children, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Aleppo has been the target of a five-week-old offensive by regime forces trying to dislodge rebels who took over swathes of the country's commercial capital in July.

Activists have reported relentless bombardments and food shortages in those neighborhoods still held by rebels, while an AFP reporter who was in Aleppo on Tuesday said life in the loyalist-controlled central area was relatively normal.

Rebels meanwhile on Wednesday attacked Hamdan military airport near Albu Kamal town in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Observatory said.

Having failed to persuade the international community to impose a no-fly zone over the country, the rebel Free Syrian Army has increasingly targeted airports used by regime attack helicopters and warplanes.

“Fighting has been going on for hours inside Hamdan airport between soldiers and rebels, who have taken over large sections of the site,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, adding that at least six rebels died in the assault.

In Deir Ezzor city, two people were killed, one of them by sniper fire, the Observatory said.

Several blasts were heard in the Jubar district of the capital Damascus as it came under heavy bombardment, and explosions were also heard in the Yalda area just south of the city, the watchdog said.

In the central city of Homs, the rebel bastion of Khaldiyeh came under fierce mortar fire, and three children were killed in bombardment by regime forces of the Ariha area in Homs province, it added.

1 Comment
September 6, 2012    George@
Even if peace is still plausible, it would mean loss of power for Assad and his henchmen -- or their answering for war crimes, as they had reached the point of no return to civilized governance long ago. Their only hope now is to fight the rebellion and carve out a chunk of Syria for their refuge.
The Iranian regime is absolutely determined to help Assad do this -- which is precisely why the path through Syria has become our gateway to Iran.
And let us not fool ourselves: That regime will have to be confronted militarily, sooner or later. The time to do so is now when we have other nations by our side going into Syria.
As for Russia and China, these two are reasonable opponents and will do what is best for them -- and the rabid Iranian regime is not much better for them as it is for the rest of us. And like us, Russia and China have given up all hope of taming it.
It is foreseeable then that Russia and China will again watch as we shed our blood and spend our treasure to rid the world of yet another troublesome regime.
The more pressing question is whether we have any stomach left for another war. Assad and the Iranian regime are betting that we don't.
But then so did Saddam and Gaddafi.



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Rajiv Shah, right, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), listens to a girl from Daraa, Syria telling her family's story, at Zaatari Refugee Camp, along with the Jordanian planning minister, Jafar Hassan, third from left, in Mafraq, Jordan, Wednesday, Sept. 5. The head of USAID says Washington is providing an additional US$21 million to help Syrian refugees(AP)

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