LONDON / ALEPPO
Syrians leave the city center after shelling by Syrian government forces in Aleppo. AA photo
Senior Turkish officials on July 27 warned that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is prepararing to assault the city of Aleppo, where clashes between the Syrian army and the rebels have intensified.
“The regime is getting ready to mount an attack on Aleppo with tanks and helicopters,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
told reporters in London. “We do not yet know what will happen today,” he said.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
also told reporters on July 27 that there were reports that Syria’s army was deploying around Aleppo and warned of a major assault on the city.
Erdoğan called on international organizations to take further steps against “a regime that kills its own people.”
“Especially if we consider the deployment near Aleppo, when you hear the remarks on weapons of mass destruction, you cannot ignore the developments,” he said. “The U.N. Security Council, Islamic Cooperation Organization and the Arab League should take the needed steps in cooperation.”
Erdoğan also said he hoped the “Syrian regime would get the necessary answer in Aleppo from the real sons of Syria.” Chemical weapons
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said July 27 he was “deeply” concerned about reports of the possible use of chemical weapons by Syria, and demanded the government state it would not use them “under any circumstances.”
“I remain deeply concerned about the reports of the possible use of chemical weapons,” he told reporters. “I demand .... that the Syrian authorities categorically state that they will not use chemical or other weapons of mass destruction under any circumstances.”
Regime troops fired from helicopter gunships on several neighborhoods of Syria’s largest city Aleppo on July 27, as the army faced off against rebel fighters, activists said.
Fierce fighting nationwide killed 29 people, among them 18 civilians, nine soldiers and two rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Army forces have been massing since July 26 on the outskirts of Aleppo and, by July 27, the redeployments were “almost complete,” a Syrian security source told AFP. “Rebels are stationed in narrow streets, in which fighting will be difficult,” a Syrian security source also said.
“The question is, to what extent will regime troops resort to excessive use of force, because if this is the case, there will be hundreds of deaths,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
On July 26, violence nationwide killed 164 people -- 84 civilians, 43 soldiers and seven rebels, according to the Observatory’s figures.