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Syrian rebels deny report of al-Assad bounty

From the CNN Wire Staff
September 19, 2012 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
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:
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A representative says Turkish report of bounty on Bashar al-Assad is false
  • Turkish report cited Free Syrian Army commander on existence of $25 million bounty
  • Rebels report total death toll for Tuesday is 160 across Syria

Editor's note: Read a version of this story in Arabic.

Damascus, Syria (CNN) -- Is there a bounty on the head of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad? There appears to be confusion within the ranks of the rebel resistance called the Free Syrian Army as to whether a $25 million reward exists for his capture, "dead or alive."

The death toll is up to 160 in Syria Tuesday, according to the Local Coordination Committees. Sixty-seven people were reportedly killed in Damascus and its suburbs; 30 in Deir Ezzor, including 23 who died as a result of shelling in Sour Village; 26 in Aleppo; 16 in Idlib, 11 in Daraa, six in Homs, two in Raqqa, one in Hama and one in Baniyas.

A bounty on al-Assad?

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army denied a news report earlier in the day that the bounty was issued.

"The FSA has no affiliation with a Syrian opposition group in Egypt calling itself 'the Free Syrian Army to protect the Revolution' and their $25 million bounty on Bashar Assad's head," Louai Miqdad, spokesman of the Higher Revolutionary Council of the Free Syrian Army, said from Turkey.

Earlier Tuesday, the Turkish Anadolu Agency reported that a bounty would be paid by Syrian businessmen who support the rebels trying to oust al-Assad. The report cited FSA commander Ahmad Hijazi. The businessmen were not identified for security reasons.

The rebels are trying to end al-Assad's regime, which many world leaders have blamed for the deaths of thousands of civilians over the past 18 months.

Blame on both opposition and regime

Syria finding tranquility amid turmoil
The 'red line' between the U.S., Syria
Finding a solution in Syria

In a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, an international committee looking into the Syrian crisis said it believes that both sides of the conflict have committed war crimes.

After a visit to Aleppo, Human Rights Watch recently reported that armed opposition groups have brutalized people and committed extrajudicial or summary executions in Aleppo, Latakia and Idlib.

Capital in crosshairs while al-Assad blames "terrorists"

Several loud blasts rattled Damascus on Tuesday as the war appears to be zeroing in on the capital. At least 14 people were killed Tuesday across the country, with four dying in Damascus, the Local Coordination Committees said.

Warplanes fired on cities from the northern commercial hub of Aleppo to the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, the LCC said.

Keeping with its line that "terrorists" are responsible for the violence, the Syrian regime lauded its "heroic armed forces confronted gatherings of terrorists" near a school compound in Aleppo. The regime claimed that it had killed "a large number of these terrorists" and injured "a large number of them."

Assad continued to tell Syrians that the havoc they've experienced was getting -- at least incrementally -- addressed. Syria state TV, an arm of the government, flashed a banner Tuesday saying: "Aleppo governor tells State TV that the drinking water pipeline is being repaired and will be shortly completed. Water pumps will be fully operating allover Aleppo midnight tonight."

SANA state news used words like "cleaned" when saying government forces battled at a "martyrs' cemetery" in Damascus, a fight that "eliminated" the "terrorists."

"The Armed Forces continued cleaning several areas and neighborhoods in Aleppo from the armed terrorists groups," SANA reported.

Syrian children in class in Turkey

Thousands of refugees from Syria have been pouring into Turkey over the past many months, and now it appears that Syrian children are being schooled in the country.

The Anadolu Agency is reporting that 1,234 Syrian children staying in the southern town of Yayladagi began the 2012-13 educational year Monday. A photographer captured the kids in a tent school on the grounds of garden in an old factory. The Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster & Emergency Management Directorate and the Turkish Red Crescent Aid Society paid for the tents.

Limiting Syrian refugees into Iraq

This week, the Iraqi government decided to let only 100 Syrian refugees into Iraq each day, with women, children and old men getting priority, according to officials who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity. Witnesses confirmed this information, and a YouTube video, which CNN cannot authenticate, appears to show the desperate scene.

Activists who support the movement to oust al-Assad posted the video.

Iraqis and injured Syrians can cross the border at any time.

CNN's Saad Abedine reported from Atlanta; Nic Robertson reported from Damascus.

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