SYRIAN REBELS have been driven out of a key district of Aleppo following heavy bombardment by pro-government forces.
Free Syrian Army commander Hossam Abu Mohammed told the AFP by phone that “we will not let Salaheddin go”, but most rebel forces have fled the area under shellfire and advancing troops.
Correspondents have reported the use of helicopters, fighter jets and tanks in the government’s assault on Syria’s second city.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday criticised both government and opposition forces for continuing to rely on weapons and not diplomacy “in the belief that they will win through violence”.
“But there will be no winner in Syria,” he added. “Now we face the grim possibility of long-term civil war destroying Syria’s rich tapestry of interwoven communities.”
“This would have tragic implications for Syria’s people and could affect stability across the region. We cannot let this prediction come true.”
Former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to be confirmed soon as the new UN-Arab League envoy to take over from Kofi Annan. Annan resigned earlier this month, saying that when he accepted the envoy role it had seems that it could help end the violence and enforce a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, the British government has said it is offering Syria’s rebel forces £5 million to pay for communications equipment and medical supplies.
Foreign Secretary William Hague wrote in an op-ed for the Times of London this morning that the UK is working on its engagement with the Free Syrian Army’s political wing, saying: “We must work to build relationships now with those who may govern Syria in the future.”
Separately, Turkish media has reported that an investigation into wreckage discovered after a Turkish plane was reportedly shot down by Syrian forces near the border has not found any evidence that the plane was actually shot down. The incident seriously damaged already-troubled relations between the neighbouring states and former allies.
Turkey accused Syrian forces of shooting the plane down after it had briefly breached Syrian airspace and returned to international airspace. Syrian officials said their forces shot the plane down with anti-aircraft fire after it entered its airspace.
- Additional reporting by the AP, AFP