Assad Declares Victory In Damascus As Opposition Calls For Intervention In Aleppo
President Bashar al-Assad's govenment declared victory in Damascus as intense fighting continued over the major city of Aleppo on Sunday, according to Reuters.
Government forces struggled for two weeks to maintain their grip on the country's two largest cities. The head of the major Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Council, called for international intervention in Aleppo to avoid further massacre by the Assad regime's "killing machine," according to Haaretz.
"If the international community cannot act, they should support the opposition with anti-tanks missiles and anti-aircraft rockets," Abdel Basset Sida said. "We seek international supporters to arm our uprising against the regime."
The SNC has managed to gather large amounts of arms but as Al Jazeera reported, rebel forces are still drastically out-gunned by the helicopters and tanks used by Syrian forces.
U.N. Undersecretary-General for humanitarian affairs Valerie Amos estimated the ongoing violence has sent as many as 200,000 refugees pouring into the neighboring countries of Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. Jordan said the influx of people forced it to open a refugee camp.
"Reality has pushed us to open this camp," Jordan's Interior Minister Ghaleb Zoubi said to aid workers at the camp's opening in Zataari, 7 miles from the Syrian border.
The battle for Aleppo has been as a turning point for the conflict. The city used to be a hotbed of support for the Assad government so a defeat their would be seen as a blow to the morale of the regime. It would also allow rebel forces to achieve a strategic stronghold in northern Syria, according to the Wall Street Journal.
More than 160 people have died since the major push to claim the city began more than a week ago and more than 19,000 have died since the uprising began in 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in Britain.
The Assad regime has blamed Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for conspiring to destroy his country. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have said they are willing to assist rebel forces and are believed to be funneling funds through Turkey, the Boston Globe reported.
The protacted uprising has sparked fears that the violence could spread to other countries in the nation. The Arab league has already suspended Syria. The head of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, said the battle for Aleppo amounted to "war crimes."
A Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to comment directly on Aleppo but did say Saudi Arabia had provided aid to the Syrian people, hinting at the potential for more direct aid for Syrians "to protect themselves at the very least, if the international community is not able to do so."
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