People in Aleppo caught in crossfire, witness says
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
This handout photo given by the opposition forces to the Anatolia news agency yesterday shows a Syrian military tank attacked by the rebels on fire in Aleppo. AA photoCivilians in Aleppo have become stuck in the middle of the battle for control of Syria after opposition forces wrestled control of the city center from government forces and ordered locals to pick a side in the clash, according to observers.
The Free Syrian Army has called on local officials to take sides and join them, a witness from the city told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday, adding that the rebels were also asking local people for support. “The Free Syrian Army has announced that they will consider those who do not take sides as enemies.”
The Free Syrian Army used to be active primarily in the suburbs of Aleppo, while the Syrian security forces used to dominate the city center, the source said but added that rebels had recently started moving into the city center.
“It is impossible to leave Aleppo due to the clashes and the bombings of the Syrian forces,” said the witness on condition of anonymity.
Regime security forces have not retreated and are bombing Aleppo from the outskirts with artillery shelling and by helicopters, the source added.
Meanwhile, Turkey has recalled most of its consular personnel from Aleppo “for consultations,” a decision made due to increasing security concerns after an explosion killed some of the Syrian president’s closest advisers in Damascus on July 18.
Turkish officials in Aleppo, including Consul-General Adnan Keçeci, his deputy and security officials, were moved from Aleppo on the morning of July 23 and entered Turkey via the Karkamış gate at around 11:30 a.m., a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told the Daily News yesterday. The group was set to arrive in Ankara yesterday, the official said.
The consulate is not closed and some personnel remain there, the official also said, adding that the consul-general may return to Aleppo if the security concerns there are reduced.
The decision to recall the consulate personnel was made at a Foreign Ministry meeting on July 19 in which possible outcomes of the explosion in Damascus were discussed, the Daily News has learned.
Turkey closed its embassy in Damascus in March due to the deteriorating security conditions in Syria. Despite the closure of the embassy, Turkey’s consulate in Aleppo has remained open to provide services for Turkish citizens in the country.