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Middle east

Rebels also using heavy weapons in Aleppo, UN says

Text by FRANCE 24 , News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-02

Heavy weapons are now being used by both sides in the bloody battle for Aleppo, a UN spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday, adding that pressure must be put on the rebels as well as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the fighting.

AFP - Syrian opposition fighters in the besieged city of Aleppo have "tanks" and "heavy weapons," the UN spokesman said Wednesday.


Amateur video footage recently posted on the Internet appears to show Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters carrying out summary executions of pro-regime militiamen, or Shabbiha, in and around Aleppo.

The videos, which could not be independently verified, appear to show the rebels mistreating their opponents in the same way as government forces have been accused of doing during the uprising.

One video shows four men identified as Shabbiha lined up against a wall and executed in a volley of gunfire that lasts more than a minute as onlookers shout, "Allahu akbar (God is greatest)".

Another video captures about 15 corpses at a police station before a rebel fires at one, blowing its head off.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has condemned the killings.

France 24

International pressure must be put on the Syrian opposition, as well as President Bashar al-Assad, to halt the fighting, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

UN observers "have confirmed information that the opposition is in possession of heavy weapons including tanks in Aleppo," Nesirky told reporters at UN headquarters.

He said they were mainly weapons that had previously belonged to the Syrian armed forces.

Unarmed observers from the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) went to the northern city on Tuesday. Aleppo has been under siege from Assad's forces for more than a week.

UNSMIS has also reported seeing a fighter jet attacking the city.

"The UN has reminded both parties of their obligation under international humanitarian law to protect civilians," Nesirky said.

More than 200,000 people have fled Aleppo, according to the UN, and Nesirky said many of the inhabitants remaining have taken shelter in schools and other public buildings.

Nesirky stressed that UN leader Ban Ki-moon wants united international pressure on both sides in the civil war.

He said pressure should be brought to bear on "not just the Syrian government forces -- who of course bear the lion's share of the responsibility for what is happening -- but also on the opposition forces, to ensure that they do heed the calls, that they do stop the fighting."

Syrian activists say more than 20,000 people have died since the start of an uprising against Assad in March 2011.


Date created : 2012-08-01


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