Al-Assad visits Aleppo, orders to ‘crush’ rebels
BEIRUT - Reuters
Al-Assad is reportedly visiting Aleppo to take a first hand look at the fighting. AP photoSyrian President Bashar al-Assad is visiting the city of Aleppo to take a first-hand look at the fighting between government forces and rebels and has ordered 30,000 more troops into the battle, a Lebanese paper said yesterday.
Al-Diyar newspaper, which is known for its pro-Assad stance, said the president had flown by helicopter at dawn from the presidential palace in Damascus to Aleppo. It did not specify what day the trip started but said that Assad was still in Aleppo. The visit was decided on after reports that the situation in the city, Syria’s largest and its commercial center, had become very serious.
“President al-Assad ordered units 5 and 6, estimated to be 30,000 soldiers and 2,000 personnel carriers, to move from Hama to Aleppo and to attack any occupied areas of Aleppo province from the Turkish border,” it said. The paper said that al-Assad gave orders that Aleppo must be “cleansed” during the visit.
Rebels mounted a new offensive last week to seize the city, which was until July firmly under Assad’s control. They claim to hold most of the Old City but are struggling to hang on to their positions in the face of heavy artillery fire.