AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
ALEPPO: Fighting for control of a key army base in Aleppo raged on today, as Russia tried to revive a divisive accord on ending the bloodshed that calls for a government of unity in Syria.
As peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi prepared to visit Damascus in a new bid to end the bloodshed, the EU foreign ministers meeting in Cyprus upped the pressure saying they agreed on the need to beef up sanctions on the Syrian regime.
On the ground, the army claimed a victory against rebels in the northern city of Aleppo, pushing them back from the Hanano army base backed by tanks and helicopters, after a 20-hour battle, military sources and witnesses said.
A military official said soldiers destroyed six armoured vehicles the rebels were using to transport arms seized from the barracks.
Badly outgunned members of the Free Syrian Army had taken part in the offensive, a rebel commander who identified himself as Abu Omar said. The goal was to liberate Hanano, cut off strategic supply lines and put a stop to shelling that has caused high civilian casualties in Aleppo.
FSA media coordinator Abdullah Yasser said the assault aimed to take down one of three main positions the army uses to shell rebels concentrated in the city’s east.
On Friday alone at least 18 soldiers and four rebels were killed in the battle for control of Hanano base, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. In all at least 136 people were killed across Syrian on Friday — 73 civilians, 38 soldiers and 25 rebel fighters — the Britain-based watchdog said.
It also reported shelling on areas of Damascus, in the southern province of Daraa, and clashes around a military airport in Albu Kamal in the east.
The fighting also spilled over the border into Iraq, when mortars crashed into the border town of Al-Qaim which lies across from Albu Kamal.
Iraqi army Captain Ali Juwayir said two of the rounds hit two homes in the town killing a four-year-old girl and wounding four people.
Russia pushes ‘old’ peace plan
MOSCOW: Russia said today it would ask the UN Security Council to endorse a plan to end the raging violence in Syria, but the United States insisted any resolution had to carry teeth. Russia has been the main diplomatic and military supporter of Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad and has angered Western nations by vetoing along with China three attempts at the Security Council to exert more pressure. “There is a plan to hold a special meeting of the UN Security Council with the participation of ministers on the Syrian issue,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said talks with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Vladivostok. “We stressed in a meeting with the United States Secretary of State that Russia will push for the Security Council’s approval of the Geneva communique.”But Clinton said she was open to another attempt at the Security Council based on the Geneva plan but insisted on a resolution to carry consequences if Assad did not comply, a senior United States official said.