BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian soldiers and armored troops pushed into a rebel-held district of Aleppo on Saturday after striking back in Damascus against fighters emboldened by a bomb attack against President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle.
Activists in Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city and a northern commercial hub, said hundreds of families were fleeing residential districts after the military swept into the Saladin district, which had been in rebel hands for two days.
BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) – A bomber killed three of Bashar al-Assad’s top military officials on Wednesday – including his powerful brother-in-law – in a devastating blow to the Syrian leader’s inner circle as rebels closed in vowing to “liberate” the capital.
Slain brother-in-law Assef Shawkat was one of the principle figures in the tight, clan-based ruling elite that has been battling to put down a 16-month rebellion against four decades of rule by Assad and his father.
BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) – Syria’s defense minister was killed in a bomb attack on a high level security meeting in Damascus on Wednesday, state television said, as the revolt against Bashar al-Assad struck at the heart of the president’s inner circle.
State television said Defense Minister Daoud Rajha was killed in a “terrorist bombing”.
LOS CABOS, Mexico/BEIRUT, June 19 (Reuters) – Russia and
China have not agreed to any plan for the removal of President
Bashar al-Assad from power but do recognize the danger of an
all-out civil war in Syria, U.S. President Barack Obama said on
Tuesday as Assad’s forces bombarded the city of Homs and clashed
International efforts to halt the violence are deadlocked
because Russia and China, which wield vetoes in the U.N.
Security Council, have blocked tougher action against Assad.
They say the solution must come through political dialogue, an
approach most of the Syrian opposition rejects.
LOS CABOS, Mexico/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Britain’s prime minister said on Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear at the G20 summit in Mexico he wants President Bashar al-Assad out of power in Syria, but Putin indicated that Syrians should decide if Assad stays and Assad’s forces bombarded the city of Homs and clashed with rebels.
Russia has been the staunchest backer of Assad and his military crackdown against militants and protesters in Syria, including supplying arms to the Syrian government.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian forces bombarded the central city of Homs on Tuesday and clashed with rebel fighters shortly before the chief United Nations monitor was due to brief world powers on the escalating violence which forced him to suspend operations.
A resident in Homs said the sound of explosions could be heard across the city, and activists also reported shelling in the Damascus suburb of Douma and fighting between soldiers and rebels in northern Aleppo province near the border with Turkey.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – United Nations observers monitoring the turmoil in Syria suspended operations on Saturday in response to escalating violence which threatens to kill off a tattered peace plan brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan.
General Robert Mood said the relentless bloodshed posed a threat to his unarmed observers, one of whose patrols was fired upon four days ago, and prevented them from carrying out their mandate to monitor Annan’s widely ignored April 12 ceasefire.
UNITED NATIONS/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s 15-month uprising has grown into a full-scale civil war where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are trying to recapture swathes of urban territory lost to rebels, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday.
“Yes, I think we can say that,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous said when asked if the Syrian crisis could now be characterized as a civil war.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – United Nations monitors said Syrian helicopters fired on rebel strongholds north of Homs on Monday and said many women and children were reported trapped in the city, calling for “immediate and unfettered access” to the conflict zones.
International mediator Kofi Annan also expressed grave concern about violence in Homs and in Haffeh, a mainly Sunni Muslim town near the Mediterranean coast, where the U.S. State Department said it feared a “potential massacre”.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – His opponents paint him as a butcher, dripping with the blood of thousands killed in a crackdown aimed at maintaining his family’s four-decade rule over Syria.
But President Bashar al-Assad, who has stemmed what many saw as an unstoppable tide of popular protest, says he is fighting to save his country from foreign-backed “terrorists” bent on destroying a proud Arab nation.