Syrian government forces pulled back from parts of the district of Salaheddine in Aleppo after heavy clashes with rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, rebel sources said on Wednesday.
"Street warfare took place, they (the rebels) have inflicted huge loses on Assad's forces who pulled back now. Salaheddine is under the control of the Free Army," Omar, an activist in the area, told Reuters by Skype.
Other rebels confirmed his account.
The rebel version of events appeared to be at odds with a report from Syrian state television earlier in the day which said government forces had pushed into Salaheddine, killing most of the rebels there, and had entered other parts of the city in a new offensive.
Rebels have used Salaheddine, the southern gateway to Syria's biggest city, as a base for three weeks but a Reuters witness said some positions were abandoned on Wednesday.
The Free Syrian Army later denied claims that Salaheddine
neighborhood has fallen under the grip of pro-regime forces.
This as statements concerning President Bashar Assad possibility to establish an enclave for his Alawite sect as a "plan B" emerge. "If he
cannot keep control of the whole of the war-torn country, then that may be an option", King Abdullah of
Meanwhile, Jordan's information minister
says Syria's defecting Prime Minister Riyad Hijab is in the country.
Sameeh Maaytah's remark to the
official Petra news agency on Wednesday ends speculation about Hijab's
There were conflicting reports
suggesting that he may have gone to Qatar since his defection to the opposition
In turn, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that at least 12 states will participate in Tehran’s
meeting on Syria set for Thursday.
On the field:
On the field, Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's forces in the city of Aleppo have abandoned their positions in a
district that has been a front line of fighting in recent days.
"We have retreated, get out of here," a lone rebel
fighter yelled at Reuters journalists as they arrived on Wednesday in the
Salaheddine district. A checkpoint that had been manned by rebel fighters for
the last week had disappeared.
A Syrian government security source told
Lebanon's Al-Manar television that Syrian forces were now in control of the
A Syrian rebel group said on
Wednesday it had killed a Russian general working as an adviser to Syria's
ministry of defense in an operation in the western Ghouta region on the
outskirts of the capital Damascus.
Meanwhile, SANA reported that the Syrian army combated a “terrorist group” in Jouret al-Shiyah, Homs, and killed all members including its leader.
A video statement from a group calling
itself the "Hawks Special Operations Battalion...a division of the
Military Leadership of Damascus City and Province", gave the name of the
general as Vladimir Petrovich Kochyev. The video, sent to Reuters, showed what
the rebels said was a copy of his ID, as issued by the Syrian military.
The same group claimed responsibility
for the assassination of four of President Bashar Assad's top lieutenants in
Damascus last month.
There was no immediate comment from the
However a statement made later on through Russian sources, confirmed the well being of the General who even made a media appearance to debunk the claims pf his death.
Russia, which has an estimated several
hundred military personnel in Syria, is one of the few countries still backing
Assad diplomatically since a popular uprising against his rule erupted 17
Seperatly, France will chair a ministerial meeting of U.N. Security Council members on Aug. 30 that will focus mainly on the humanitarian situation in Syria and in neighbouring countries, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
"By bringing together its Security Council partners, France wants to demonstrate its support for the Syrian people, its growing worries about regional stability and its attachment to a transition toward a democratic, pluralistic system," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
France holds the month-long rotating chairmanship of the U.N. Security Council.