179 dead as clashes reported in Damascus and Aleppo
Syrian regime forces Friday resumed their bombardment of rebel areas in Damascus and Aleppo, the scene of a crucial battle in the war for Syria where the failure of diplomacy pushed the international mediator Kofi Annan to resign.
In New York, the UN General Assembly was set to vote on a resolution presented by Arab countries to condemn the shelling of cities by the army and seek a political transition. This is a largely symbolic but not binding initiative.
Despite the escalating violence that left 179 dead Thursday in Syria, demonstrations were held across the country. However, building on the international divisions, the regime remains determined to end the rebellion launched in March 2011.
The army engaged with the rebels in the Tadamoun neighborhood of Damascus, close to the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, where 21 civilians were killed yesterday by shelling, according to Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR). Fighting also erupted around the military airport in Marj al-Sultan in the province of Damascus, according to NGOs.
In the second largest city, Aleppo, the district of Salahuddin was again bombed by the regime soldiers. " The insurgents claim to control half of Aleppo. Violence continues to escalate" in Aleppo where "significant" reinforcements were dispatched to the "great battle", said Thursday, Herve Ladsous, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
On his part, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has lamented being unable to supply humanitarian aid to Aleppo because of the military blockade. The organization said some 7,200 people sought refuge in 45 schools and six dormitories.
In addition, "dozens" of civilians and rebels were killed Thursday in a neighborhood of Hama (center) besieged by regime forces, according to SOHR.