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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Manu Brabo/AP/Press Association Images Free Syrian Army fighter takes cover in a building during clashes against the Syrian Army in Aleppo today.

Syria war rages on, UN chief warns of calamity

A report published today also said that children are being “badly traumatised” after witnessing killing and torture.

SYRIA’S REGIME SAID it recaptured a major district of key battleground city Aleppo and UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned of a “regional calamity” as more than 100 people were reportedly killed on Tuesday.

Ban gave the grim assessment at the opening of the UN General Assembly where US President Barack Obama told world leaders that Syria’s President Bashar Assad must face “sanctions and consequences” over the brutal civil war.

The 18-month conflict was turning into a “regional calamity with global ramifications,” Ban said, adding “the international community should not look the other way as violence spirals out of control”.

“I call on the international community – especially the members of the Security Council and countries in the region – to solidly and concretely support the efforts” of UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

A woman holds the body of her brother on the streets of Aleppo today. Image: Manu Brabo/AP/Press Association Images

Obama delivered a blistering attack on Assad and his regime.

“The future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people,” Obama told the General Assembly in a keynote address.

“As we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop, and a new dawn can begin.”

The United States wants a Syria “that is united and inclusive; where children don’t need to fear their own government, and all Syrians have a say in how they are governed — Sunnis and Alawites; Kurds and Christians.

“That is the outcome that we will work for — with sanctions and consequences for those who persecute; and assistance and support for those who work for this common good,” Obama added.

If there is a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets at apartment buildings.

And the emir of Qatar, a key backer of the Syrian opposition, called at the UN General Assembly for an Arab military intervention in Syria to halt the conflict.

“It is better for Arab countries themselves to intervene out of their humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed,” said Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

A Syrian woman cries near Dar El Shifa hospital while the body of her son, killed by the Syrian Army, lies on the street in Aleppo. Image: Manu Brabo/AP/Press Association Images

On Tuesday, the global aid agency, Save the Children, also gave a poignant account of the situation in Syria, saying children are being “badly traumatised” after witnessing killing and experiencing torture.

The report, entitled Untold Atrocities, gives first-hand accounts from children and parents who fled the violence, and contains graphic details of how youths have been caught up in the war.

Children were again among the victim’s of Tuesday’s violence in Syria, where at least 103 people were killed nationwide, including 51 civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Troops shot dead a six-year-old when they targeted the car she was in on the motorway linking the northern city of Aleppo to the capital Damascus, said the Observatory.

Another child was killed by mortar fire northeast of Damascus while a teenage boy died from shelling elsewhere, said the watchdog.

Blasts in Damascus

A military official told an AFP reporter in Aleppo that “army operations have been completed in Arkoub” district and that security forces were conducting “door-to-door raids in search for rebels”.

Syrian television aired footage of soldiers carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles and patrolling Arkoub, where high-rise buildings were shelled out and rubble lined the streets.

But the Observatory insisted that clashes in Arkoub had not ceased and an AFP correspondent at the scene said he heard sporadic machinegun fire coming from far inside the area.

Since mid-July, the conflict has centred on Aleppo, where the rebel Free Syrian Army says it controls all of the axes around the city, and that their only real worry is aerial attacks.

In Damascus, explosions shook the headquarters of an army administration building that manages schools for children and martyred soldiers, according to the Observatory. State media said seven people were wounded.

“The explosions were so powerful that the walls collapsed,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Deadly violence also rocked the eastern oil hub of Deir Ezzor, and the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the anti-regime uprising, where soldiers and rebels were killed.

And at least five troops and four rebels were killed in fighting that erupted after insurgents attacked army checkpoints near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The conflict has divided the Security Council, where Assad regime allies Russia and China have already wielded their veto powers three times to resist international action demanded by Western and many Arab states.

But the US president on Tuesday insisted the Assad regime “must end” to facilitate transition in the war-hit country, echoing repeated demands by Western, and some Arab, leaders for radical changes in Syria.

Reports from the battlefield said, meanwhile, that regime defector Colonel Kassem Saadeddine, a Free Syrian Army commander in the central province of Homs, escaped an assassination attempt on Tuesday.

“Colonel Saadeddine’s convoy was ambushed by shabiha (pro-regime militiamen) after midnight in Salmiyeh in Hama province” in central Syria, spokesman Fahd al-Masri told AFP.

“A large battle ensued and the shabiha were killed. The colonel was saved.”

At least 29,000 people have been killed since the revolt erupted last year, according to the Observatory, while the United Nations puts the toll at more than 20,000.

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