Syrian government troops appear to gain upper hand

Updated: 2012-10-03 14:52

(Xinhua)

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DAMASCUS/UNITED NATIONS/LIMA - Bloodshed continued in Syria Tuesday amid reports that the Syrian army has received reinforcements in the largest city of Aleppo and appears to have gained an upper hand in the prolonged clashes.

Government troops carried out "qualitative" operations in al-Qusair town near Homs in central Syria, killing 300 armed men and damaging 11 cars equipped with automatic machine guns, pro-government radio Sham FM reported.

Late in the day, a small blast rattled a military checkpoint in southwest Damascus, causing material damage, pro-government online media reported.

The situation in Aleppo also saw no improvement as a string of clashes that occured during the day turned the place into a flashpoint.

Government troops targeted an armed group on the airport highway at al-Ramouseh Bridge in Aleppo, killing all its members, state-run SANA news agency said.

In a seperate account, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said violent clashes have been taking place for hours in neighborhoods near the international airport of Aleppo as well as in a number of hotspots, killing at least 110 Syrians, including 66 unarmed civilians, 19 armed rebels and tens of government soldiers.

In a separate incident, dozens of "terrorists" were killed or injured near al-Jankiyeh orchard in al-Sheikh Khudr neighborhood of Aleppo when they were trying to rescue other gunmen in the area, SANA reported.

Meanwhile, a well-informed source told Xinhua on the conditioin of anonymity on Tuesday that the Syrian army has received reinforcements in Aleppo.

He said the troops managed to "isolate the countryside of Aleppo from the Turkish borders to cut off support lines of the armed rebels on ground," adding that Aleppo is expected to be clean of rebels soon.

His claim echoed with the pro-government al-Watan newspaper, which said Tuesday that the shortage in the rebels' ammunition and the cut-off of their funding channels "would eventually end the ongoing war in favor of the government," citing military experts and observers.

The armed men have got tired and started to flee toward their cities and villages in Aleppo and other provinces, Al-Watan said.

The Syrian troops have received reinforcements in Aleppo, the paper said, adding that "it means that they are determined to purge the remnants in Aleppo, especially in the eastern part as soon as possible."

However, the 19-month-long crisis might stretch longer than expected by the Syrian people, according to a high-ranking Syrian official.

The senior official was cited by the Lebanese al-Safir daily on Tuesday as saying that the crisis might drag on, noting that the Syrians have started "to cope with it and adapted themselves with its circumstances after realizing that the confrontation would be long and complicated."

But he said the political leadership in Syria "still retains a lot of trump cards."

The spiraling crisis has sparked wide concerns among Arab and South American leaders as they attended a bi-regional summit Tuesday in Peru's capital Lima.

"The crisis in Syria represents the biggest challenge Arab countries face today," said Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari who warned: "The crisis can be catastrophic not just for Syria, but for the entire region."

Meanwhile, Deputy UN secretary-general Jan Eliasson said Tuesday the joint UN/Arab League representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is going to be based in Cairo to promote his mediation of the Syrian crisis.

"Lakhdar Brahimi will work from Cairo from next week onward so that he is in proximity of the region and he will work very closely with his Egyptian colleagues," he said when briefing the press on the just-concluded General Debate of the UN General Assembly.

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