Bashar al-Assad orders air strikes on Aleppo in battle for Syria’s ‘destiny’

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Assad made his first speech on Wedne3sday since a July 18 bomb attack in Damascus that killed his brother-in-law, Major General Assef Shawkat and other senior military offcials.

“The army is engaged in a crucial and heroic battle on which the destiny of the nation and its people rests,” he said.

“Our military remains the backbone of the motherland.”

Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Oqaidi, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), said the air strikes by fighter jets were a sign of growing desperation in the regime’s military.

“The army’s morale is at its lowest,” he said.

“They know that if they send in tanks next to houses and civilians, they risk higher defections. Soldiers are just waiting for their chance to defect.”

Fighting between soldiers and rebels has broken out for the first time near two Christian districts of Damascus, according to reports.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting began at dawn on the outskirts of the Bab Tuma and Bab Sharqi neighbourhoods. One soldier was reportedly killed.

“This is fighting in areas where it has not happened before. These are areas where the rebels have so far not had access,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel rahman said.

Turkey’s army staged tank exercises near the Syrian border on Wednesday, Turkish officials said, in a move highlighting Ankara’s unease about security on the frontier.

The exercises were held after a series of Turkish military deployments to the area prompted by the spiralling violence in the 17-month uprising against Assad.

Some 25 tanks took part in the exercises in the Nusaybin district of Mardin province, just one mile from the Syrian border, state-run Anatolian news agency said.

 

In : World News