DAMASCUS, July 23 (Xinhua) --The rate of clashes in the Syrian capital of Damascus has notably declined overnight Sunday and after daybreak Monday, while it has been increased in the northern Aleppo province.
The clashes in Damascus, which started last Sunday, have notably declined as the sounds of clashes and bombing disappeared in most neighborhoods. The Syrian army has declared several neighborhoods rebel-free over the past couple of days.
The armed opposition fighters announced last Sunday the commencement of the "last battle of Damascus" that aimed at bring down the capital. The ill-equipped rebels couldn't hold much in face of the army's firepower, but their guerrilla-style tactics have caused great disturbance in the capital, and particularly after the Wednesday bombing that killed four senior officials from the inner circle of President Bashar al-Assad.
After getting a strategic defeat in the capital, rebels have opened another front for battles in the northern Aleppo province, the commercial hub of Syria. The fighting in Aleppo has started Saturday and on Sunday an opposition battalion declared the beginning of the operation to "liberate Aleppo."
Activists said intense clashes have been reported in Aleppo in several areas at a time the Syrian troops have been fighting and regaining control of border crossings near Iraq and Turkey, which have been occupied by the armed rebels over the past couple of days.
The opposition fighters' tactic aims to sap the resolve of the Syrian army that has been undertaking relentless urban fights to bring down the armed insurgency.
On Sunday, the Syrian TV aired footage of Arab fighters, mostly of Tunisia and Jordan, who have been either killed or arrested during the fights in Syria.
Syria's nearly 17-month unrest has veered toward a sectarian conflict as most of those who have come to Syria to fight with the opposition are mostly driven by sectarian motives.
They believe they are committing the holy Jihad against the Syrian regime, who is dominated by the Alawite minority, to which the Assad and the ruling elite belong.
Syria's internal opposition activists have ruled out the idea that their revolt is sectarian or aims to topple the current regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of sectarian motives, and insist it aims only at overthrowing the government.
Contrary to the prevailing belief that the Syrian crisis has evoked sectarian rifts and in an apparent endeavor to soothe the Alawites' fears, opposition activists decline to make any connection between the soaring violence and massacres in Syria and the Alawite sect, which poses around 12 percent of Syria's 24 million Sunni-majority population.
Fuad Humeira, the famous Syrian screenwriter, posted on his Facebook page an article in which he said that more than 12,000 Alawites have been killed in Syria over the past 16 months.
He also indicated that there is a media blackout on several Alawite detainees and activists.
Humeira contended that the crackdown against protesters is carried out be a government that combines Alawites, Sunnis, Christian, Druze and Kurds.
"The conflict has never been with the Alawite sect... it's with the regime," he said. Thus, he added, "There is no need to concentrate on the religious dimension of the conflict as this would be a service for the revolution's enemies inside and outside Syria."
He stressed that Alawite intellectuals have spared no effort to support the revolution.
Observes argue that the inner circle of the Syrian regime combines Sunni personalities who are still showing unwavering support to it, raising prospects that some parties are trying to fuel sectarian rift to speed up the collapse of the Syrian government.
DAMASCUS, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Syrian foreign ministry spokesman said Monday chemical or germ weapons would never be used in any inner fight or against Syrian people amid the current crisis, "no matter how this crisis evolves."
Jihad Makdissi added that those arms are monitored and guarded by the Syrian army, and will be used strictly in case of specific outside aggression. Full story
DAMASCUS, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Intense clashes continued Sunday in a number of areas across Syria, particularly in the northern province of Aleppo, where armed opposition fighters said they have started an operation to liberate Aleppo from the government troops, activists say.
The clashes in Aleppo, Syria's second largest city and economic powerhouse of the country, have come against the backdrop of the clashes in Damascus that have been raging on since last Sunday. Full story