DAMASCUS, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday the army troops are fighting "fateful" battles as the"enemies" are using inside elements to strike the stability of Syria while the UN observer mission confirmed that the armed rebels are in possession of heavy weapons, including some tanks in Aleppo.
Addressing the Syrian army on the 67th anniversary of its foundation, Assad said Syria's enemies are using the internal agents as a "bridge" to undermine Syria's stability and security and "drain our economic potentials and scientific competencies."
The president made the remarks as his rule is facing internal and external threats with Western-backed armed rebels fighting a war of attrition against the government strongholds in the capital Damascus and northern Aleppo province, Syria's economic hub.
The recent reports of the fighting in Aleppo, which started a week ago, indicate that the rebels have acquired surface-to-air missiles from Turkey, whose prime minister has recently said Syrians "will soon be freed from the regime with blood on its hands."
Furthermore, the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) confirmed that the armed rebels, for the first time, are in possession of heavy weapons including tanks in Syria's largest city, Aleppo.
In a briefing Wednesday, Sausan Ghosheh, the mission's spokesperson, said "we have reports...that there has been heavy use of heavy weapons including tanks and heavy machine-guns as well as artillery," she said, adding that "yesterday... we saw firing from a fighter aircraft."
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain- based activist group, said clashes took place at dawn Wednesday around a military base in the village of Handrat in Aleppo, adding that the clashes continued for hours until the sunrise.
It said the initial tally indicates that the leader of a rebel battalion was killed during the clashes.
Meantime, the state-run SANA news agency reported that the authorities on Wednesday clashed with an "armed terrorist group" that opened fire on passing cars in Khanaser area in Aleppo countryside.
Quoting an official source, SANA said the "terrorists" were driving machine gun-mounted SUVs, adding that the terrorists were all killed or wounded in the clash.
Also in Aleppo, SANA said Military forces on Wednesday hunted down some armed terrorist groups in Handarat area, in the north of Aleppo, and clashed with them.
It said tens of the terrorists were killed and injured during the clash, some of them being Arab nationalities.
The clashes in Aleppo have also been marked with the participation of a third party that has started joining the fighting in the northern area against Damascus. Reports have indicated that hundreds of Jihadists affiliated to al-Qaida and like-minded groups have recently infiltrated Syria to exploit the chaos, making dimmer the prospect for a foreseeable solution to the crisis.
Meanwhile, news paper Guardian has quoted a leader of a rebel battalion in Aleppo as saying that "now, we are in control of nine neighborhoods which are in the eastern part of the city and three others in the western part of the city."
The paper has also quoted another rebel leader as saying that " al-Qaida is now in different places in Syria, they work separately, they are even in Aleppo. We do not work with them. They have Syrian and Arab fighters and they have their own targets and weapons."
"They are different hard-line groups. We do not deal with them, " he said.
Meanwhile, an online video purportedly showed rebels executing members of alleged pro-government militiamen in Aleppo. Human Rights Watch has condemned the execution.
All sides of the conflict are claiming to have scored victories against one another in Aleppo but the final result is yet to come amid the government's confidence that the Syrian army will gain the upper hand.
Observers believe that the Western-backed rebels are vying to take the northern slice along the borders with Turkey to use it as a base for their operations and outside support. They are clearly working to repeat the Libyan scenario in Syria.
DAMASCUS, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- The UN Supervision Mission in Syria said it's deeply concerned about the situation in Aleppo city, confirming that the armed rebels, for the first time, are in possession of heavy weapons including tanks.
In briefing Wednesday, Sausan Ghosheh told reporters that the UN mission in Syria has confirmation that "the opposition is in possession of heavy weapons including tanks." Full story
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations food agency will send urgent food assistance to Aleppo residents amidst heavy fighting in the largest city of Syria, a UN spokesman told reporters here on Wednesday.
"The World Food Program (WFP) will distribute food to 28,000 people in Aleppo over the next few days, following reports of shortages of food, gas and electricity during weeks of violence in Syria's largest city," said Martin Nesirky, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a daily briefing. Full story