AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Tuesday 25 September 2012
Last Update 25 September 2012 2:54 pm
DAMASCUS: Regime warplanes struck rebel positions in Aleppo yesterday, killing three children, as insurgents claimed to control most of Syria ahead of a UN Security Council address by peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.
Before the annual UN General Assembly beginning today, the UN and Arab League envoy is set to brief the UN Security Council behind closed doors on his contacts in Damascus, including with President Bashar Assad.
Brahimi discussed Syria with UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Saturday and both agreed that the 18-month crisis was “a steadily increasing threat to regional peace and stability,” a statement said.
Yesterday’s briefing comes as new violence in Syria killed at least 30 people across the country, and a day after at least 82 died, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It said three children from one family were among five people killed in a strike by regime warplanes yesterday on the northern city of Aleppo, the country’s commercial hub that has been a focus for fighting since mid-July. “Three children from the same family were killed when their building collapsed in Maadi district, which is located in the Old City of Aleppo, 600 meters from the citadel,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
“There are still people buried under the rubble.”
Videos posted to YouTube by activists, which AFP was unable to authenticate immediately, showed a mountain of rubble and men trying to clear away slabs of debris to free trapped residents. A fourth child, a girl, was killed in heavy shelling of Aleppo’s northern neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud where several homes were destroyed, the Observatory said.
An AFP correspondent also reported that the army pounded with artillery Bab Al-Nayrab and Bab Al-Hadid, two rebel areas near Maadi, while fierce clashes rocked Jdaidet and Sayyed Ali districts in the Old City of Aleppo. A five-year old child was also killed on Monday in the town of Dael, in the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the revolt against the regime of President Bashar Assad, the Observatory said. Six soldiers were also killed in a bomb blast in Daraa, it added.
Battles also raged overnight in several areas of Syria and pre-dawn clashes erupted in the Damascus neighborhood of Qaboon, while a blast shook the suburb of Qudsaya in the northeast, said the watchdog. Meanwhile Syrian opposition groups tolerated by the Damascus regime have called on both the military and rebels to stop the violence immediately in the country, at the end of a meeting in the Syrian capital on Sunday. The group also urged Brahimi to organize an international conference of all concerned parties to push for a democratic transition in the country. “The regime adopted a security and military solution in response to the people’s revolution and their demands for freedom and democracy, and that has generated violence,” the opposition groups said.
The United Nation’s food program needs millions of dollars to feed sharply growing numbers of Syrians caught in the country’s civil war, the agency director says.
World Food Program chief Ertharin Cousin said Syrians needing aid has grown to 1.5 million, up from 250,000 people in April. She said yesterday the agency had raised $78 million but needs $60 million more to cover its annual Syria budget. In addition to aid pledges, Cousin said, donor countries need to exert diplomatic pressure to ensure the Syrian government allows agency workers access to those in need.
The UN’s food program also provides food and vouchers for an additional 250,000 Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. The new UN-Arab League envoy to Syria says Assad has no intention of carrying out reforms which would end his family’s 40-year dictatorship and is seeking to portray the country’s uprising as a foreign conspiracy.
According to a diplomat inside Brahimi’s closed-door briefing yesterday to the UN Security Council, the envoy described a rapidly deteriorating country with routine torture, looming food shortages and damaged schools. The diplomat, who demanded anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly discuss the briefing, said Brahimi believes that Assad’s goal is to return his country to “the old Syria.”
Russia — Syria’s key protector — and China have vetoed three Western-backed Security Council resolutions aimed at pressuring Assad to stop the violence and start political talks.
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