AMMAN (Reuters) – Syria’s fractious opposition coalition meets on Thursday under pressure to name a new leader and prove to its Western and Arab backers it can be trusted with advanced weapons to beat back a concerted offensive by President Bashar al-Assad.
The opposition’s inability to unite has made Western countries reluctant to send weapons, even as Assad’s forces have seized initiative in recent months and Washington and its European allies have vowed to aid his enemies.
AMMAN (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad’s forces pounded Sunni Muslim rebels in the city of Homs with artillery and from the air on Sunday, the second day of an offensive to expand loyalist control over Syria’s strategic centre, activists said.
They said rebels defending the old centre of Homs and five adjacent Sunni districts had largely repelled a ground attack on Saturday by Assad’s forces but reported fresh clashes and deaths within the city on Sunday.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian rebels battled President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in and around the northern city of Aleppo on Sunday, seeking to reverse gains made by loyalist forces in the commercial hub over the last two months, activists said.
The fighting, by a variety of insurgent groups, happened as France urged moderate rebels to wrest territory back from radical Islamists whose role in the fight to topple Assad poses a dilemma for Western countries concerned that arms shipments could fall into the hands of people it considers terrorists.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Islamist rebels have cut access to a Kurdish area in northern Syria and clashed with Kurdish nationalist PKK fighters whom they accuse of backing President Bashar al-Assad, sources on both sides said on Thursday.
The confrontation threatens to open a new front in Syria’s 27-month-old civil war, in which Kurds, who form about 10 percent of the population, have so far played a limited role.
AMMAN (Reuters) – The commander of Syria’s main rebel force is coming under increasing pressure to impose unity on his fighters as the United States and other powers move towards arming the opposition battling to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
General Salim Idriss, a defector chosen six months ago as consensus figure to lead the rebel Supreme Military Council, is being promoted as a cool head to bring together fractious combat units and curb the influence of radical Islamists.
AMMAN/LONDON (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin, arriving in Britain ahead of an international summit set to be dominated by disagreement over the U.S. decision to send weapons to Syria’s rebels, said the West must not arm fighters who eat human flesh.
In Syria, rebels fought back on Sunday against forces of President Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese Hezbollah allies near Aleppo, where Assad has announced a campaign to recapture the rebel-held north after seizing a strategic town this month.
AMMAN, June 16 (Reuters) – Rebel brigades fought
Hezbollah-backed forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in
and around Syria’s commercial hub of Aleppo on Sunday, trying to
claw back territory lost to an assault that threatens the
opposition’s grip on the city, activists said.
Rebel brigades poured into Aleppo last July and have more
than half the city under their control. But pro-Assad forces
have deployed there in the past three weeks, suggesting a push
to retake the city could be under way.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian rebels and activists say they fear President Bashar al-Assad’s troops could resort to wider use of chemical weapons, unless the United States follows up on its pledge of military support with firm and swift action.
After months of equivocating, President Barack Obama’s administration said on Thursday it would arm rebels, having obtained proof the Syrian government used chemical weapons against fighters trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are massing around Aleppo in preparation for an offensive to retake the city and build on battlefield gains that have swung the momentum of Syria’s war to Assad and his Hezbollah allies.
Rebels reported signs of large numbers of Shi’ite Muslim fighters flowing in from Iraq to help Assad end the civil war that has killed at least 80,000 people and forced 1.6 million Syrians to flee abroad.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Fighting is intensifying in northern Syria, where rebels say President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies are preparing an offensive after success last week in seizing a strategic town further south.
The capture by Assad’s forces and Hezbollah of the town of Qusair, which controls vital supply routes across Syrian and with Lebanon, is a sign of reversing momentum after the rebels seized swathes of the country in the second half of last year.