Syria: U.N. says no one will win (+video)
The possibility of a drawn out civil war in Syria looms, as fighting continues across the country. Assad's army has ceded ground elsewhere in order to focus its resources on fighting in Aleppo. In the meantime, the U.N. may name a new envoy to replace Kofi Annan next week.
(Page 2 of 2)
Sheikh Tawfiq, commander of the Nur al-Din Zinky brigade based on 15th street in Salaheddine, said the army's formidable weaponry was offset by apparently faltering morale.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Battle for the heart of Syria: inside Aleppo
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"At the 10th street front line we are face-to-face with the army and can hear them make orders on their radios -- we hear their commanders give orders to soldiers to advance and they keep urging them to, but the soldiers don't and are hesitant.
"The commanders have even taken away the soldiers' mobile phones so that we don't have a chance to call them and create more defections," he said.
As the battle for Aleppo raged, Iran, Assad's closest foreign backer, called for "serious and inclusive" negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition.
Assad has repeatedly said he is ready for dialogue, but he has vowed to crush the armed rebels he says are terrorists. His opponents say he must step aside before any talks, arguing negotiations would be meaningless while the bloodshed persists.
Iran made the call after gathering diplomats from like-minded states in Tehran for talks on the conflict not attended by Western and most Middle Eastern states, which have demanded Assad end his family's 40-year rule.
The violence has already shown elements of a proxy war between Sunni and Shi'ite Islam.
"There will be no winner in Syria," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement read by a U.N. representative to the conference in Tehran.
"Now, we face the grim possibility of long-term civil war destroying Syria's rich tapestry of interwoven communities."
Already stretched by rebel activity in many parts of the country, the military, despite its advantage in tanks, warplanes and helicopters, has had to cede ground elsewhere as it struggles for control of Aleppo.
As part of a broader army offensive, Assad's forces attacked rebels on several fronts, including a neighbourhood near the airport in southeast Aleppo, several eastern districts, and a town on Aleppo's northwestern outskirts, state media said.
Despite the violence, the Red Cross delivered food and medical supplies to Aleppo, the first time one of its aid convoys managed to enter the city in several weeks.
Reuters journalists in Tel Rifaat, 35 km (20 miles) north of Aleppo, watched a Syrian air force jet diving and firing rockets, causing villagers to flee in panic.
Explosions rang out and black smoke billowed from an olive grove. A truck was engulfed in flames. Six children and a crying woman fled their tiny home. One woman held the Koran above her head, kissing it, and another banged her head with her hands. Men stared at the sky and threw their arms up in despair.
Though sympathetic to the rebels, Western powers, Turkey and Sunni Arab states have not intervened militarily. Russia and China have blocked United Nations action against Assad, while Iran has tried to bolster the Syrian leader in an Arab world where many view non-Arab, Shi'ite Iran as a menace.