Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Syria clashes kill 21 rebels in Aleppo province; rockets in government-held district kill 9

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, second left, gives a speech next to Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, left, Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, second right, and Prime Minister of Morocco Abdel Ilah Benkiran, during a conference on EU-Arab ties in Athens on Monday, May 5, 2014. Elaraby strongly criticized the international community's response so far to the fighting in Syria, and called for a new approach to urgently end the conflict. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Enlarge Image

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, second left, gives a speech next to Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, left, Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, second right, and Prime Minister of Morocco Abdel Ilah Benkiran, during a conference on EU-Arab ties in Athens on Monday, May 5, 2014. Elaraby strongly criticized the international community's response so far to the fighting in Syria, and called for a new approach to urgently end the conflict. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

BEIRUT - Fierce fighting in Syria's contested northern province of Aleppo killed at least 21 rebels on Monday as rockets slammed into a government-held district in the provincial capital, killing nine people.

The clashes, which erupted after midnight Sunday and continued through the day Monday, also left at least 30 soldiers dead or wounded, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Syrian government does not publicize its casualties in the war.

President Bashar Assad's forces, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants and pro-government militias, have been trying to wrest as much territory as possible from the opposition in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria ahead of the June 3 presidential elections.

The fighting in the province, pitting troops loyal to Assad against several rebel groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, was concentrated around two rebel-held villages in the province, said the Observatory, which has documented the 3-year-old conflict based on reports from a network of activists on the ground.

In the city of Aleppo, Syria's largest and its former commercial hub, government forces have been relentlessly shelling opposition districts with aircraft and artillery in recent months.

On Monday, government aircraft bombed three rebel-held districts in the city, including Masaken Hanano, where at least two people died, the Observatory said. The activist group also reported heavy fighting in Mleiha east of Damascus and airstrikes on the capital's district of Jobar on the edge of the city.

Aleppo has been divided between government- and opposition-held areas since rebels launched an offensive there in mid-2012, capturing whole neighbourhoods and large sections of territory outside the city and along the border with Turkey.

The rebels have been striking back, firing mortars and makeshift rockets into cities and towns under control of Assad's forces. They have also detonated several car bombs in major cities, including in the capital, Damascus.

The state-run SANA news agency said rockets struck in Aleppo's residential neighbourhood of Ashrafiyeh overnight, killing nine people and wounding several, mostly women and children.

Syria's conflict, which began with largely peaceful protests in March 2011, has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones, pitting predominantly Sunni Muslim rebels against Assad's government that is dominated by Alawites, a sect in Shiite Islam. More than 150,000 people have been killed and millions have been displaced by the war.

Islamic extremists, including foreign fighters and Syrian rebels who have taken up hard-line al-Qaida-style ideologies, have an increasingly prominent role in the war, dampening the West's support for the rebellion to overthrow Assad. Many Syrians, particularly religious minorities, have also come to doubt the opposition, fearing that Islamic radicals would take over if Assad is ousted.

Assad took power after the death of his father, Hafez, in 2000. He has maintained throughout the conflict that his government is not facing an uprising, insisting that his army is fighting terrorists that are part of the Western- and Gulf Arab-sponsored plot to destroy Syria.

Over the past year, Assad's forces have been taking back rebel-held areas throughout Syria with a mix of crippling blockades, deals with rebels and relentless pounding of opposition-held areas. Presenting himself as a defender of united and religiously mixed Syria, Assad has pushed for the June 3 vote to seek a third seven-year term amid fierce fighting.

Despite two other candidates on the ballot, Assad is widely expected to win the vote, which opposition activists and Western countries have condemned as a sham. The vote is expected to be held only in government-controlled territory.

Syrian officials have said they will not accept international monitors to oversee the vote, but on Monday, Parliament Speaker Jihad Laham invited pro-government countries to send representatives.

Addressing a parliament session, Laham called on the BRICS group — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — and other "friendly" states to send experts "to oversee this free and democratic experience."

International efforts to halt Syria's bloodshed have failed and millions of Syrians are in dire need of humanitarian aid. The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that almost 3.5 million civilians in Syria have virtually no humanitarian aid access, calling on both sides in the conflict to stop blocking aid.

In Greece, the head of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, sharply criticized the U.N., saying the international community has "utterly failed to stop the fighting" in Syria, and calling on the Security Council to "impose a cease-fire" in Syria.

"Enough grief, enough destruction and enough suffering," Elaraby said in Athens, where he was attending a conference on Arab-European Union ties. "The Security Council has to assume its charter responsibilities and impose an immediate cease-fire."

___

Associated Press writer Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Nicholas Paphitis in Athens contributed to this report.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Sudden Surge: Flood of 2014
Opportunity Magazine — The Bakken
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media