Syrian opposition gunmen stormed into buildings of radio and
TV stations in Aleppo on Saturday amid violent clashes between opposition
members and pro-Assad forces in the outskirts of Damascus.
The Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights said rebels withdrew from the district of Izaa where the state
television building is located. “Rebels planted explosives there while regime
forces shelled the area,” the Britain-based Observatory reported. The rebels
then withdrew from the area.”
Syrian opposition sources announced that many areas controlled
by the armed opposition in Aleppo were shelled, mainly the neighborhoods of
al-Shaar and Sakhour east of the city, and Salah Eddine in the west where
According to SANA, “mercenary terrorist groups attacked
civilians as well as the state TV building [in Aleppo]”.
Meanwhile, “Al-Nasra Front” adopted the killing of an
anchor who works at the Syrian state TV and who was kidnapped in mid-July.
On the other hand, a high-level Syrian security official told
AFP that Aleppo’s battle has not started yet, adding that the ongoing shelling
is only “a prelude”. The official pointed out that there are continuous
military reinforcements, adding that at least 20,000 soldiers are present on
Later on Saturday, a military source announced that regime troops now have full control over Damascus after “cleansing
the Tadamon neighborhood”. The source described the situation in the capital as
“excellent and stable.”
Iranians were kidnapped while on a pilgrimage in the Syrian capital Damascus on
Saturday, the Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.
The pilgrims were seized by "armed
groups" on the Damascus airport road as they returned from a religious
shrine, IRNA quoted an unnamed official in Iran's embassy in Damascus as
Gerard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the UN, announced
that Paris will leverage its presidency of the UN Security Council in
August to boost assistance to the Syrian people “in the absence of any
political progress due to the Russian stance.”
Qatar said on Saturday that any successor to Kofi Annan as international envoy for Syria must pursue a new strategy because of what it said was the failure of Annan's six-point peace plan.
"There must be a clear modification to this plan now because the issue of the six points is finished," Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said. "None of them has been implemented."
Annan said on Thursday he was stepping down as joint representative for the Arab League and United Nations on Syria.
His peace plan was centred around an April ceasefire agreement between President Bashar al-Assad's government and rebel fighters, as a first step towards political dialogue. The ceasefire never took hold and thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels have been killed since it was agreed.
Sheikh Hamad blamed the failure of the plan on "Syrian procrastination" and the increased bloodshed.
Meanwhile, Russia condemned a resolution on Syria which the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted on Friday as "harmful," complaining that it was tantamount to a show of support for rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the 193-nation assembly that the Saudi-drafted resolution "hides blatant support to the armed opposition."
Russia was among only 12 countries that voted against the non-binding text, which condemns Damascus and calls for a political transition.
The resolution received 133 votes in favor and 31 abstentions. China, Iran and Cuba were among the dozen nations that voted against the resolution, which Western diplomats said had been intended to highlight Russia's and China's isolation for using their veto power in the Security Council to protect Assad.
Also on Saturday, Iranian Defense
Minister Ahmad Wahidi said that arming the Syrian opposition would have “dire
consequences on the region”.
Separately, defected Syrian Brigadier-General Manaf Tlas visited Turkey on
Saturday to meet with Turkish officials, according to a diplomatic source.
The names of the
officials with whom Tlas met and the content of his talks with them were not disclosed.
For the full report, watch the video above.