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Entries in Aleppo (12)

Wednesday
Apr172013

Evidence of Chemical Weapons in Aleppo

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images(ALEPPO, Syria) -- Lying in a hospital bed north of Aleppo in Afrin, Yasser hasn't been told that his wife and children are dead, as his doctors don't think he can handle the shock in his fragile state.  His home was bombarded on April 13 by what he calls “chemicals in the air.”

For months, opponents of the Assad regime have accused the Syrian military of using unknown chemical weapons in rebel controlled territories, such as in Homs, Damascus and Aleppo. The Syrian government said rebels deployed a chlorine-based agent in Aleppo last month, and formally requested that the U.N. send observers to investigate, but it hasn't granted permission for the team to enter.

Given that the Obama administration has repeatedly stated that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be considered a "game changer," confirmation that these weapons have been deployed could significantly alter the course of Syria's war.

Dr. Hassan, director of a hospital in Afrin who did not want his full name used, said he did not have evidence about who was responsible for the attack, or what kind of chemical was released. But he said the symptoms and treatment clearly indicate that chemical agents were used. Medical personnel involved refused to give their last names, citing fear of retaliation.

A Kurdish journalist who filmed the aftermath of the attack in Afrin was also recuperating at the hospital. He said there were two canisters in the house, one plastic and the other metal, with valves used to deploy the gas. He added that residents in the area say they heard a helicopter earlier that night, but none of the survivors confirmed the presence of a helicopter immediately prior to the strike.

Yasser's neighbors were the first to respond, and they described smelling a sharp, bitter odor that stung their eyes when they entered the home. One of the men tried to carry the baby, but collapsed once he reached him.

The two children died shortly after the attack. Their mother survived for a few hours, but her heart stopped at the hospital in Afrin, according to Turki, an anesthesiology technician.

Yasser’s neighbors told him that the house was intact, that the bomb was just gas and didn't cause much damage.

"I wish my whole house was destroyed rather than have to deal with this smell," he said. "I just want to know that my wife and children are fine."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar212013

UN to Investigate Possible Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

ABC News(ALEPPO, Syria) -- U.S. officials do not believe that chemical weapons were used in Tuesday's attack in Aleppo, Syria.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon announced on Thursday that the U.N. will investigate possible use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict. The announcement was welcomed by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who said that the governing body should investigate "any and all credible allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria."

Syria is one of few countries who have not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention's agreement, which internationally bans use of chemical weapons. According to BBC News, Syria is believed to have large stockpiles of mustard gas and other chemical weapons.

The U.S. officials said that while nothing was certain, Tuesday's attack likely did not include use of any chemical warfare. However, tear gas or other chemical agents not categorized as chemical weapons could have been used, according to the officials.

At least one report said that Syrian rebels believed the agent to be Echothiphate, a chemical agent in insecticides. Echothiphate is not categorized as a chemical weapon.

"President Obama has been clear that the use or transfer of chemical weapons is totally unacceptable. If Bashar Al-Assad and those under his command make the mistake of using chemical weapons, or fail to meet their obligation to secure them, then there will be consequences. Those responsible will be held accountable," Rice said in her statement.

In addition to the Tuesday attack, rebels accuse the government of carrying out another attack involving chemical weapons near Damascus. There have been no verified instances of chemical weapon use in the two year conflict.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan162013

Scores Killed, Wounded at Syrian University

AFP/Getty Images(ALEPPO, Syria) -- The two sides involved in the ongoing Syrian conflict are blaming each other for bombings Tuesday at the University of Aleppo that left at least 82 people dead and scores more wounded.

Witnesses said there were two powerful explosions on the college campus in Syria's largest city while classes were in session.

According to activists, the destruction was caused by Syrian military jets.  However, Syria's official news agency alleged that rebel forces fired missiles into the campus.

The University of Aleppo was established in 1946 and currently has an enrollment of over 60,000 students.

Fighting in Aleppo has intensified since last year with both sides aware that gaining control of the city is crucial in the battle to win total control of Syria.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct032012

Wave of Bombings Leaves Dozens Dead in Syria

AFP/Getty Images(ALEPPO, Syria) -- A series of car bombings in northern Syria Wednesday have left at least 31 people dead and dozens more wounded, reports the BBC.

The blasts occurred in Saadallah al-Jabari Square in Aleppo, near a military officers' club and a hotel, according to the BBC.  Aleppo is Syria's second largest city and has recently been a site of contention between government and rebel forces who are battling for its control.

Video of the scene shows considerable structural damage.  The fear now is that some are still trapped under the mountain of rubble.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep112012

Video Shows Rebel Execution of Syrian Forces in Aleppo

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The conflict in Syria showed further signs of spinning out of control Monday after a video was released that depicts the execution of over 20 government soldiers by rebel forces.

An opposition group, which sides with the rebels, says that the incident occurred in the northern city of Aleppo where some of the fiercest fighting of the war has taken place in recent weeks.

Following the shooting, men wearing army fatigues were seen lying in the sidewalk, some who had been blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs.

Meanwhile, rebels holding weapons are also viewed nearby as a voice in Arabic intones "God is great" while a camera pans over the corpses.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that the execution likely took place earlier this month.  Release of the video follows Sunday's simultaneous car bomb explosions near two hospitals in Aleppo that claimed more than 30 lives and wounded dozens more.  Most of those killed were civilians.

Government and rebel forces are battling for control of the city of three million, which could determine the outcome of the conflict now nearing its 19th month with tens of thousands killed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug032012

Syria: Young Fighters Prepare for Battle in Aleppo

Scott Peterson/Getty Images

ABC News’ Alex Marquardt reports from Aleppo Province:

(ALEPPO, Syria) -- We spent the last week meeting and staying with families and fighters in the middle of the conflict in Syria.

One evening, we stayed with one unit that was gearing up for what could be the biggest fight of their young lives.

Their faces are not the faces of battle-hardened warriors. They are young men, barely 20 years old. They are defectors from the Syrian military with just basic training.

They call themselves “the martyrs of freedom” and they tell us that they cannot wait to get in the fight. Tonight, they are going to Aleppo, where President Bashar al-Assad said the battle would determine the fate of Syria.

When asked whether they are afraid of going to fight, they respond, “No. No. No. … We’re only afraid of Allah.”

Allah is their god and their inspiration. What these young men lack in battlefield experience, they make up for with religious fervor and hatred of the Syrian regime.

“The regime has tanks, planes, helicopters. You just have AK-47s and RPGs. How can you defeat them in Aleppo?” they were asked.

“We have Allah with us,” said Ali, 21. “He will send soldiers.”

This is the holy month of Ramadan, when most Muslims fast all day. After sundown, they break fast. During dinner, the mood is light -- not what you’d expect hours before the big fight.

Afterward, it’s time to gear up. The young men eagerly wait for their names to be called. Weapons are assigned -- AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades.

If they’re nervous, they are hiding it well.

“Victory or martyrdom,” Ali says. “God willing.”

Ali and the others who have been chosen for battle say goodbye to their brothers-in-arms and head out into the dark. Those left behind are disappointed.

Abdulrahman went last time and tonight, it clearly pains him to be missing out.

For many, this will be the first and maybe last fight of their lives. There is not a hint of doubt among them that this is a battle that must be waged -- and won.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug022012

Syrian President Says His Fate Depends on Outcome in Aleppo

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- As his troops engage in a life and death struggle with rebels for control of Syria's largest city, President Bashar al-Assad issued a statement Wednesday that his forces had proven their "steely resolve and conscience and that you are the trustees of the people's values."

Al-Assad, who has not been seen in public since a bomb blast killed four members of his inner circle two weeks ago, made his proclamation in a written statement.

The struggle to win the northwestern city of Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub, could well determine whether al-Assad stays in power or if opposition forces that he has dubbed "terrorist criminal gangs" will become the country's new leaders.

Exhorting his forces to continue their fight, al-Assad, who has only been viewed in TV clips since July 18, said, "The fate of our people and our nation, past, present and future, depends on this battle."

Since the conflict began in March 2011, an estimated 20,000 people have died in Syria and there are fears al-Assad could order the use of chemical weapons in a desperation move to defeat his enemies.

Meanwhile, the violence in Aleppo show signs of spinning completely out of control as video has been shown of rebel fighters apparently conducting executions of prisoners, presumably Syrian soldiers.

The United Nations is also reporting that the humanitarian crisis in the city is growing more dire as food and other essential supplies are not reaching civilians caught in the crossfire.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

Fighting Continues in Syria's Largest City, Thousands Unable to Flee

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The United Nations’ refugee agency says thousands of civilians are trapped in Syria's largest city -- unable to flee or afraid that it’s too dangerous -- as the fighting there intensifies.

As the Syrian Army sends reinforcements to fight rebels in Aleppo, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming says thousands of Syrians are seeking shelter in schools.

“There are a total of some 7,000 people staying in the dormitory rooms hoping to seek safety from the continuing shelling and the continuing violence in the streets of Aleppo,” Fleming said.

A U.S. military official familiar with the situation in Syria told ABC News that Syrian President Bashar Assad is not budging and could hold out for months.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

Syrian Government and Foes Giving No Ground in Aleppo

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(ALEPPO, Syria) -- Syria's largest city of Aleppo remained under siege on Tuesday as government forces and rebel fighters both claimed they had made headway in taking control of important pockets of the commercial hub.

The outcome of the 17-month-long conflict could depend on who ultimately wins the city in Syria's northeast.

Reports are that the Syrian soldiers are using a military base in the south as its headquarters while rebels from the Free Syrian Army seem to have taken firm hold of eastern sections of Aleppo.

Both sides say they are determined to win the important large neighborhood of Salaheddiin in the city's southwest.

Meanwhile, opposition forces boasted of taking over two large police stations, which are considered valuable military locations.  Since the government uses them for intelligence, keeping the precincts out of the Syrian army's hands puts them at a disadvantage.

Government and rebel forces appear ready for a long fight in Aleppo even as soldiers loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have the upper hand in troop strength and fire power.  An estimated 20,000 people have died in the civil war that began as a peaceful protest for democratic reform in March 2011.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul312012

It's Heavy Artillery Versus Guerilla Warfare in Syria's Largest City

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(ALEPPO, Syria) -- Fighting between government troops and rebel forces in Syria's largest city of Aleppo intensified Monday as the military used artillery, ground forces and helicopter gunships on opposition strongholds.

There were reports that much of the violence is centered around Aleppo's southwest Salah al-Din area, one of the first neighborhoods taken over by rebels more than a week ago.

Syrian soldiers said late Monday that they won back control of Salah al-Din after fierce fighting but rebels deny that claim.

Col. Abdel Jabbar al-Oqaidi of the Free Syrian Army asserted the government "had not progressed one meter."

Aleppo could wind up becoming the turning point in the 17-month-long conflict that has cost an estimated 20,000 lives as President Bashar al-Assad tries to keep power.

United Nations officials say 200,000 people have fled the city while civilians who stayed behind are facing dramatic food and power shortages.

Even as the rebels are outmanned by a military with far more equipment, they have launched a guerilla-style street offensive in their effort to win full control of Aleppo, located northeast of Damascus near the border with Turkey.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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