Rebels capture Syrian town

Rebels capture Syrian town

Rebels capture Syrian town

Children of a Syrian family look out from their container in Öncüpınar in Kilis.

Syrian rebels finally wrested control yesterday of the northern town of Harem, near the Turkish border, after weeks of heavy fighting, activists said.

The takeover of Harem, a town of 20,000 in northern Idlib province, was the latest in a string of recent rebel successes that include the capture of wide areas along the border with Turkey.

The capture comes amid news that Turkey has decided to send 37,000 tons of flour to Syria, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç announced late Dec. 24 following a Cabinet meeting.

Most of the areas captured by rebels have been in northern Aleppo province, where anti-government forces have seized at least three large military bases.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels captured Harem in the early hours of yesterday.

Mohammed Kanaan, an Idlib-based activist, said the last post to be taken was the historic citadel, which overlooked the town and had been turned into a military post.

“Harem was very important because it is one of the towns that was loyal to the regime,” said Rami-Abdul-Rahman, who heads to Observatory. Turkey’s aid decision comes after at least 60 people were reported to have been killed in a regime air strike on a bakery in the town of Halfaya, in the central province of Hama, on Dec. 23. A decree for food assistance to Syria was signed during the Cabinet meeting, said Arınç.

Kızılay to lead process

“What is occurring in Syria is a humanitarian tragedy. It is in a very difficult situation economically. Unfortunately, the Syrian administration is blocking the transfer of aid to civilian people. Turkey has signed a decree to donate around 36,000-37,000 tons of flour, which is equivalent to 50,000 tons of wheat,” the deputy prime minister said.

The flour will be handed over to the Turkish Red Crescent Society (Kızılay) in order to be delivered to civilians, while transportation and distribution will be handled by Kızılay, he added.