The Syrian army continued attacking rebel positions Sunday in the
northern city of Aleppo with heavy shelling and helicopter gunships.
The country's biggest city has become a key battleground in the nearly
year and a half uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, as
government forces reportedly mass ahead of what is expected to be a
strong offensive against the rebels.
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more
than 40 Syrians, including 25 civilians, were confirmed as killed Sunday
across the country. The British-based group said more than 24 others
were killed a day earlier. The casualties have not been independently
Meanwhile, Iranian media said Tehran has asked Turkey and Qatar to help
secure the release of 48 Iranian nationals kidnapped Saturday in
Damascus. Iran says the victims were religious pilgrims, but a brigade
commander with the Free Syrian Army describes them as elite Iranian
Iran backs the Syrian government, while Turkey and Qatar support the
Former Iranian President Abolhasan Bani Sadr tells VOA that the captured
Iranians were not armed or wearing Revolutionary Guard uniforms. He says
Iran is definitely helping President Assad and that the stakes are very
high for his country.
He says that the fall of the Assad government would not only be a heavy
blow to Iranian prestige and influence in the region, but it would also
reinforce U.S. policy of containing Iran. He says Tehran views any
toppling of President Assad as signifying that Iran's turn could be
International Debate Continues
U.S. State Department announced Sunday that Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton will visit Turkey later this week to discuss the deteriorating
situation in Syria.
The United Nations General Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly to
condemn the Security Council for its failure to act and condemned the
Syrian regime for using heavy weapons.
The U.N. special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, resigned Thursday in
frustration with the world body's failure to act decisively to prevent
the bloodshed in Syria. Mr. Annan said he could not be the only one
working for peace while the fighting between Syrian forces and the
rebels intensified. Mr. Annan's peace plan for Syria included an
immediate cease-fire and talks on a transitional government.
Russia and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions that
would have held President Assad responsible for his failure to abide by
Mr. Annan's peace plan and threatened him with sanctions.