The focus two weeks ago was on Damascus. The focus is now on Aleppo, where there has been a considerable build-up of military means, and where we have reason to believe that the main battle is about to start.UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous • Discussing the current military situation in Syria — suggesting a major battle in Aleppo is coming soon. In related news, three Russian landing ships, each carrying 120 marines, are heading to the Syrian port of Tartus to restock supplies for the base. Russia had previously offered to send ships to the base for protection purposes.
People are fleeing the city towards the countryside. I think they are sensing that a huge battle is about to take place, a decisive one.Free Syrian Army deputy commander Malik Kurdi • Regarding the quickly-escalating situation in Aleppo, which is being described as “nonstop shelling” by some activists. The battle over one of the world’s oldest cities has been increasingly violent, the worst in the city since the war began. The U.S. has increased its support of the rebels in the region of late, though not “lethal support.”
People are still in shock that this is happening — they thought it would be limited to one neighborhood, but it is growing in size to other neighborhoods. They are scared of chaos and lawlessness more than anything else.Syrian academic Fadi Salem • Discussing the fighting taking place in the city of Aleppo, one of the two main holdouts in the Syrian conflict, which has heated up in recent days. Pockets of the loosely-organized Free Syrian Army launched the attacks on both Aleppo and Damascus in in an effort to gain control over two of the oldest cities in the world — and the country’s two key power centers. Even if the rebel armies have to double back once the Syrian army comes in, they’ve made the point that no part of the country is safe.
The attack also injured 10, and the two slain were a pair of young girls, one an 8-year-old refugee whose family fled Syria to avoid the escalating bloodshed. The mortars reportedly hit farms up to 12 miles over Syria’s border into Lebanon, farms used by refugees as well as fighters attempting to cross into Syria. The deaths, as well as tension between pro and anti-Assad Lebanese, have sparked international concerns over the potential widening of the Syrian conflict.
» Speaking to members of his cabinet today, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the following: “We are in a state of real war, in every aspect of the words, and when we’re in a state of war, all of our politics has to be concentrated on winning this war.” His remarks coincided, whether deliberately or not, with a highly bloody day for Syria, according to opposition activists. Additionally, the UN Security Council met today for briefing on the monitor mission in Syria, which will continue to be suspended due to the dire state of security.
It is not possible to cover over a thing like this. Whatever is necessary will no doubt be done.Turkish President Abdullah Gul • Responding to yesterday’s news that a Turkish jet was shot down by Syrian forces. According to reports, the jet was seemingly shot down over Syrian waters – pieces of it have been found in the Mediterranean, off the Syrian province of Lakatia. This is simply a new tension between the two states, as Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a vocal critic of the Assad government’s violent crackdown over the last 16 months. Some 32,000 Syrian refugees have found respite along the Turkish border so far, and Turkey has provided support to the anti-Assad “Free Syria Army,” thickening discord between the two governments. source (via • follow)
Assad must transfer power and depart Syria. The regime-sponsored violence that we witnessed again in Hama yesterday is simply unconscionable. Assad has doubled down on his brutality and his duplicity and Syria will not, cannot be peaceful, stable or certainly democratic until Assad goes.U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton • Saying, in no uncertain terms, that she wants Bashar al-Assad out of Syria. She emphasized that the U.S. is willing to work with the UN Security Council to reach this goal. Clinton’s latest statement comes on the heels of a massacre near Hama on Wednesday that led to the deaths of at least 78 villagers (according to UN observers), including up to 40 women and children.
We should increase pressure on Russia to cease selling arms to the Syrian government and to end its obstruction at the United Nations. And we should work with partners to arm the opposition so they can defend themselves.Mitt Romney • In a statement released on Tuesday, attacking the Obama Administration for what he called a “policy of paralysis that has watched Assad slaughter 10,000 individuals.” With nations around the globe expelling Syrian diplomats, following a recent massacre by the Assad regime in Houla, Romney has renewed calls for U.S. military action in Syria. White House press secretary Jay Carney pushed back against Romney’s attacks, saying the administration believes that further militarizing the Syrian rebels would only lead to more “chaos and carnage.” source (via • follow)
» Eyes on the ground: The UN Security Council voted unanimously to approve this surge in cease-fire observers, above and beyond the mere 30 tasked with the job last week. Syrian activists have long accused the Assad government of agreeing to proposals and peace deals only to buy itself more time in its brutal crackdown against citizen protest. To date, that fear seems rather validated, as just like last November’s peace agreement with the Arab League, the government has continued firing on activists and citizens with little regard to the terms of their agreements. At present, there are continued reports of killings, and shellings of cities such as Homs, with activists claiming the violence only halts for as long as the aforementioned monitors are in an area.
The battle to topple the state is over, and the battle to solidify stability… and move on towards a renewed Syria has begun.Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi • From an interview with Syria’s state-run television channel. The Syrian opposition isn’t so keen on this declaration, however — while opponents of the government have been forced to cede ground in recent weeks, there’s no real sign the anti-Assad fervor is dying down. Rebel groups have continued to urge foreign states to provide them with arms and munitions, while the United States and Arab League states continue to wait, hanging their hopes on the Syrian peace plan engineered by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Present UN estimates suggest the death toll in Syria, since the beginning of anti-government uprisings just over one year ago, now tops 9,000. source (via • follow)