The battle for Aleppo has continued with violence escalating in the northern city. On Tuesday forces of President Bashar Al-Assad conducted an aerial bombing of Aleppo. The use of warplanes to attack rebels is the first time government forces have resorted to aerial attacks to combat rebels in Aleppo.
Assad forces have compromised their position throughout various parts of Syria to focus pressure on Aleppo and Damascus. The two major Syrian strongholds are critical for both governmental and rebel forces and control of the two cities would provide a major tipping point for either side.
Major clashes in the capital started last week, and an intense counteroffensive by the Syrian army managed to push rebels back and regain strongholds in Damascus.
Now, both sides have their sights set on the commercial hub of Aleppo. On Wednesday Reuters reported that the Syrian army ordered columns of armored vehicles to advance towards Aleppo, and have attacked rebels in that city with artillery and military helicopters.
Meanwhile Syrian forces have been bombarding the Damascus suburb of al-Tel, an area that has been under control of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Reports show that the government has been utilizing artillery and rockets in their offensive there.
The New York Times has reported the increasing role and growing presence of Al Qaeda in the Syrian uprising. The report indicates that jihadist operatives have established a presence at an important border crossing between Syria and Turkey. Iraqi officials have insisted that these extremist fighters are the same ones that have operated throughout their country in recent years. However there has been an overall consensus among Syrian rebels to staunchly reject any sort of aid from the Al Qaeda organization.
From the onset of the uprising the Syrian government and media have attempted to paint the rebels as terrorist operatives.
Turkey has closed its border posts to Syria, although they will remain open for Syrian refugees. Iraq and Jordan have been accepting Syrian refuges and the Lebanese government has appealed to foreign powers for financial assistance to cope with the massive influx of Syrians crossing into Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Syrian envoys to Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates have deserted their posts, defecting from the current Syrian government.
Tensions in the international community have also risen due to reports indicating that the Assad regime possesses stockpiles of chemical weapons.
In an address in Nevada on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama said, “Given the regime’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad and those around him that the world is watching and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the United States should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons.”
Russia along with China has vetoed resolutions in the United Nations Security Council to condemn Assad’s actions and urge a peaceful transition. On Wednesday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Labrov criticized the United States for not condemning the deadly bombing that killed four senior security officials last week.
Arab League member countries Algeria and Iraq have rejected the assembly’s call for President Bashar Al-Assad to step down. Their statements were in response to a statement by the Arab League urging Assad to step down. The Arab League pledged USD 100 million to Syrian refugees and offered to give him safe passage.
APS news agency reported that Algerian authorities stated that it was “not the prerogative of this council but remains a sovereign decision of the brotherly Syrian people.”
On Monday the Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Labid Abbawi advised that the Arab League explore an alternative solution to a peaceful transition in Syria rather than interfering in the its national sovereignty.