DAMASCUS, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Syrian forces are carrying on Tuesday with their operation to eradicate insurgency in the conflict-battered Aleppo province and elsewhere in the country amid reports talking about the presence of al-Qaida fighters and other "Jihadists" in the current clashes, which adds a horrifying element to the 17-month unrest.
The state-run SANA news agency said the army hunted down Tuesday armed groups in the Salahuddien district of Aleppo, costing them heavy losses. It said the army also conducted "a qualitative" operation with the help of local people in the Aleppo suburb of Handrat, inflicting hefty toll on the armed groups.
SANA also said that the Syrian forces clashed with "armed terrorist groups" on the outskirts of Aleppo and destroyed nine SUVs "with all terrorists inside."
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebel fighters attacked Syrian police stations in Aleppo's central neighborhoods of Salhin and Bab al-Nayrab, and seized the buildings after hours of clashes, adding that at least 40 police officials had died in the attack.
The Observatory said that the neighborhoods of Tariq al-Bab and al-Meyser in Aleppo are being "violently bombarded by regime forces, who are using helicopters in their attack."
The activists' account cannot be independently verified.
The Aleppo clashes have been flaring up since last week, when the leaders of the insurgent groups announced their operation to " liberate Aleppo," the commercial capital of the country.
The rebels have pushed towards Aleppo apparently after being dispelled from the capital by the Syrian forces.
The clashes in Aleppo are gaining momentum, in part due to the province's location near the Turkish borders, which have recently turned into a smuggling route for weapons and foreign fighters seeking to wage 'Jihad' in Syria.
The British government has reportedly warned that the worsening situation in Syria could attract Jihadists.
Meanwhile, Guardian said Tuesday that "scores of foreign Jihadists have crossed into Syria from Turkey in the past two weeks, some of them telling Syrians that they are planning to travel to Aleppo to join a decisive battle against regime troops," adding that "Syrian residents and a Turkish smuggler interviewed by Guardian said many of the men have come from Caucasus, while others from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Gulf Arab states."
The Syrian leadership has for long said that Al-Qaida and like- minded groups are involved in the fighting against the administration of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Experts believe that the Jihadists are mainly motivated by their willingness to fight the Alawite government, an offshoot of Shiism, which it considered by extremists as "heresy."
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday that as many as 200,000 people in and around Aleppo have fled their homes over the weekend.
As the chaos on the ground heated, Haitham al-Maleh, an 80-year- old opposition figure reportedly said he has been asked by the " Council of Syrian Revolutionary Trustees to form a government in exile."
According to the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera TV, Maleh said he has been "tasked with leading a transitional government," and that he will begin consultations with the opposition inside and outside the country.
DAMASCUS, July 31 (Xinhua) -- The armed insurgents in Syria seem vying to take control over Syria's largest city Aleppo in a bid to make it a foothold that could later serve as a launching- pad for effective assaults against the ruling regime.
The days-long furious clashes between armed insurgents and Syrian troops in Aleppo are seen as crucial in drawing the coming stage's features, given the importance of the northern province as commercial hub and a bedrock of support to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The battles there are considered by many observers as the death match between the conflicting sides. Full story