Skip to main content

Syrian rebels, regime forces clash in Aleppo

By the CNN Wire Staff
July 26, 2012 -- Updated 0958 GMT (1758 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Villages near Aleppo seem deserted
  • At least 129 people died Wednesday, an opposition group says
  • The British and German ambassadors are concerned about the Aleppo fighting
  • Live footage appears to show rebel forces seizing a police station in Aleppo

Are you in Syria? Share your stories, videos and photos with the world on CNN iReport.

(CNN) -- Syrian rebels took their fight to the northern city of Aleppo on Wednesday, burning a police station and capturing pro-regime forces in an effort to wrest control from government forces, opposition and rebel groups said.

Rebels took control of a police station, according to footage streamed live by the Free Syrian Army on Wednesday. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels burned a police station, though it wasn't clear if it was the same one.

The video shows rebels seizing tanks, looting the station, smashing pictures of President Bashar al-Assad and lining up captured members of the pro-regime Shabiha militia.

Another opposition group, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, said MiG-21 warplanes were flying over the city and shelling several Aleppo neighborhoods. There was also gunfire, and civilians' cars were targeted, it said.

Villages near Aleppo appeared deserted Wednesday, and residents told CNN they are now traveling on back roads because the main highway is considered unsafe.

A Sunni cleric in the village of Injara, about six miles west of Aleppo, showed CNN journalists craters and gaping holes in at least six homes, the result of what he and residents said were rockets and artillery from a Syrian army base visible a couple of miles away.

"They hit us every night," Bukhro said.

Former intel chairman on global hotspots
Romney campaign: Arm Syrian rebels
Is there a plan for post-Assad Syria?
UN official: 'Step up' and help Syrians

The British and German ambassadors to the United Nations said reports of the warplanes over Aleppo are especially concerning.

"The reports now of attacks by regime fighter jets in Aleppo mark yet a further dangerous escalation and underlines that there are no boundaries that the Assad regime will not cross in the misguided hope that it can resist the will of its people and hang on to power," British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told the Security Council on Wednesday.

Does U.S. have a post-Assad plan?

Aleppo is the commercial hub of Syria and an al-Assad stronghold, making it a key target for both sides.

"The Assad authorities are not only unleashing their heavy weapons and gunships against their own people," German Ambassador Peter Wittig said. "Two days ago they went even a step further and threatened the international community with the use of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction."

Wittig was referencing comments by Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi that any weapons of mass destruction owned by the regime would never be used against the Syrian people, and are meant to be used only in the event of "external aggression."

Wittig called Makdissi's remark "a ruthless and an inhumane threat."

In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war: In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war:
Syrian civil war in photos
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Syrian civil war in photos Syrian civil war in photos

Syria is thought to have a biological warfare research and development program but is not known to have offensive biological warfare agents, according to Michael Eisenstadt, a senior fellow and director of the military and security studies program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Massacre in Syria
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
Photos: Massacre in Syria Photos: Massacre in Syria

At least 129 people, including 10 children, were killed in fresh violence across the country Wednesday, the LCC said. The dead included 22 in Aleppo and 27 in and around Damascus.

A member of the Free Syrian Army engages in an attack against the Syrian army in Al-Qusayr on January 27. The small town in western Syria has been under siege since early November. A member of the Free Syrian Army engages in an attack against the Syrian army in Al-Qusayr on January 27. The small town in western Syria has been under siege since early November.
On the front lines with the Free Syrian Army
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
Photos: Front lines of Free Syrian Army Photos: Front lines of Free Syrian Army

Rights group Amnesty International said Wednesday the discovery of 19 bodies in a Damascus neighborhood this week mirrored a pattern documented elsewhere in Syria of both regime and opposition forces carrying out unlawful killings.

"Reports that government forces and armed opposition groups deliberately and unlawfully captured and killed opponents in Syria bolster the need for all sides to commit to abiding by international humanitarian law," the group said.

CNN's Ivan Watson, who is in northern Syria, said rebels have become better armed in the past few months. While they had only shotguns at one point, they now have rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles, he said.

The increased firepower has helped the rebels successfully attack the regime's armored vehicles and forced some Syrian units to resupply by helicopter.

Watson said that in the village he was in, hundreds of rebels loaded up with ammunition this week and headed to fight in Aleppo.

Read more: Faces of the Free Syrian Army

On a visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon compared the civil war in Syria to the situation during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

"The echoes are deafening. An accelerating slide to civil war. Growing sectarian strife. Villagers and children, butchered," he said in an address to lawmakers.

"The United Nations is doing all that we can," Ban said. "But action -- meaningful action -- will take the concerted efforts of the international community. Without unity, there will be more bloodshed. More deadlock means more dead."

Video: Fighting breaks out at Syria-Turkey border

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the international community must make clear to al-Assad that it's a matter of when, not if, he must go. But in demanding al-Assad's ouster, Blair said, world powers must be careful about what comes next.

"Because the aftermath is very uncertain, what is it that we really learn, whether from Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else, when you lift the lid off these highly repressive regimes, out comes all this pouring of tension, religious and tribal and ethnic difficulty," Blair said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

"So if we can manage a process of change that allows us then to manage the aftermath sensibly, I think obviously that would be in everyone's interest," Blair said. "That's easy to say, hard to do, but I think that should be the rubric of our approach. Make it clear it is inevitable -- he is going to go -- but really focus on managing that aftermath."

Meanwhile, half of the U.N. observers have left Syria as their mission begins what is set to be its final 30-day mandate, the U.N.'s chief peacekeeper, Herve Ladsous, said Wednesday in Damascus.

As a result, "the mission operates on a reduced basis, reduced in numbers, reduced in team sites in the provinces and does what it can," Ladsous said.

About 150 observers remain in Syria.

Read more: Syria says it has weapons of mass destruction in case of foreign attack

Turkey's customs and trade minister earlier announced temporary restrictions on traffic at three border crossings with Syria -- Cilvegozu, Oncupinar and Karkamis -- because of security concerns.

Hayati Yazici said opposition forces had taken control of the border crossings, which led to damage and looting. The new restrictions bar commercial traffic from entering or leaving Syria, he said, though Syrian citizens will still be allowed to cross into Turkey.

Thousands of Syrians have fled to Turkey in recent months to escape the violence, though they generally cross through the border fence, and not the border gates.

In what may be a blow to the regime, the opposition Syrian National Council said Wednesday that two senior Syrian diplomats were the latest to defect.

One is the Syrian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Abdullatif Al Dabbagh, SNC spokesman George Sabra said.

The second is Al Dabbagh's wife, who is also the Syrian envoy to Cyprus, Lamia Al Harriri. She defected to Qatar, SNC member Najy Tayyarah told CNN. She is also the niece of Syrian Vice President Farouq Al Sharea.

Video: Abdullah on chemical weapons in Syria

The Syrian crisis started in March 2011, when a fierce government crackdown on protesters morphed into a nationwide uprising against the regime.

The LCC says more than 16,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The U.N. secretary-general said this week that almost 17,000 people have died.

Read more: Amid violence, Syrians race to borders

CNN's Yousef Rafayah, Joe Sterling, Brian Walker, Yesim Comert, Richard Roth and Ivan Watson contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Aqsa Mahmood,19, would listen to Coldplay and read Harry Potter books. Then this Glasgow girl became an ISIS bride.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
The little boy looks barely old enough to walk, let alone understand the dark world he's now inhabiting.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0422 GMT (1222 HKT)
ISIS has released video of the aftermath of a mass execution. Another video shows alleged captured Peshmerga soldiers.
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
The number of people who have fled Syria and registered as refugees amid the country's civil war will surpass 3 million Friday.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, grew up in the Minneapolis area, but died more than 6,000 miles away in Syria, fighting for ISIS.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
If the United States is serious about thoroughly defeating ISIS, it must, somehow, go through Syria.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1243 GMT (2043 HKT)
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 2117 GMT (0517 HKT)
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT)
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
June 2, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 2216 GMT (0616 HKT)
More than 100,000 people reportedly have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising in 2011 spiraled into a civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT