Friday 10 August 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final report on those killed on 10/8/2012:
The dead include 115 unarmed civilians, 20 rebel fighters, 4 defected soldiers, and no less than 52 members of the Syrian regular forces.
-In Idlib Province 18 were killed. 6, including 3 women, were killed by bombardment and clashes in the town of Kafr-Nabl. 1 was killed in the city of Idlib by regime forces gun fire. 2 children died during bombardment on al-Kastan village. 1 was killed due to the bombardment on the town of Deir Sunbol. 3 were killed, including 2 children, at night due to the bombardment on the town of al-Bara by regime forces. 1 civilian from the town of Ariha died due to an injury caused by sniper fire. 4 civilians from the province were killed by gunfire in Damascus.
-In Homs province 21 were killed. 1 during bombardment on the al-Hola town. 10 civilians, including 3 women and a child, were killed by bombardment on the town of al-Damina al-Gharbiya. At least 7 civilians died during bombardment on the al-Khalidiya neighbourhood in the city of Homs today at night. 1 civilian was shot by a military checkpoint in the city of Tadmur in Reef Homs. A civilian from the town of al-Kseir was killed by regime forces. 1 civilian was killed by excessive torture in Tadmur.
-In Reef Dimashq province 29 were killed. 2 civilians were shot by regime forces in the al-Mleiha town. 1 died by wounds he received earlier due to bombardment on the town of Zamalka several days ago. 1 civilian was shot by a military checkpoint near al-Sayida Zainab. 1 was shot by regime forces in the town of al-Balaliyeh. 1 civilian died by wounds he received earlier in the town of Yalda. 14 civlians, including a child and a woman, were killed in the al-Tal town due to bombardment and gunfire on the town. 2 civilians died during bombardment on the Zabadein town. 2 dead from the city of Douma, 1 was found killed in the town of al-Tel, the other died of his wounds. 5 civilians were killed by the rockets that were launched into the towns of Deir a;-asafeer, Hamouriya, Hteitat al-Turkman. 2 young men were shot dead by a military checkpoint in the city of Harasta.
- In Dera’a province 12 were killed. 5, including a child, were killed due to gunfire and bombardment on the town of Busra al-Sham. 2 civilians were killed during bombardment on the A’alma town. A young girl was killed during bombardment on the town of Tafas at night. 1 civilian from the town of Kuheil was killed by regime forces. A university professor died during bombardment on the town of Da’el. 1 died effected by injuries he received during the bombardment on the al-Lajat area in Reef Dera’a. 1 civilian was killed by sniper fire in the Dera’a al-Mahatta neighbourhood.
-In Deir Izzor province 1 was killed during bombardment on the neighbourhood of al-Ansari in Deir Izzor city today at night.
-In Hama province 4 civilians were killed. 2 during bombardment on the town of Kafr Zeita in Reef Hama. A child was killed by the bombardment onm the town of al-Latamneh. 1 civilian was killed by regime fire in the city of Aleppo.
-In Latakia province 2 civilians were killed when regime forces targeted their car in the Salma Dawrein road.
-In Damascus 3 civilians were killed. 2 civilians from the Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood of Damascus were killed by regime gunfire in Dera’a. 1 civilian was killed by security forces in the Tishreen neighbourhood, Qaboun area of Damascus.
20 Rebel Fighters:
-In Idlib Province 11 fighters were killed. 9 rebel fighters died during bombardment and clashes in the Kafr-Nabl town. In the city of Idlib 1 rebel fighter was killed during clashes. 1 rebel fighter was killed during clashes in Jabal al-Arba’een.
-In Aleppo province 1 rebel fighter was shot by regime forces in the surroundings of the al-Ashrafiya neighourhood.
-In Reef Dimashq Province 1 rebel fighter from the city of Daraya was killed during clashes in Aleppo.
- In Homs province a rebel fighter was killed by the bombardment on the Khaldiyeh neighbourhood of Homs.
-In Deir Izzor province 6 fighters were killed. 1 rebel fighter shot by regime forces in the al-Sina’a neighbourhood. 3 fighters were killed by sniper fire in the city of Deir Izzor. 1 fighter died by wounds he received 3 days ago in al-Zor city. 1 fighter from the town of Sbeikhan was killed during clashes with regime forces.
3 defected soldiers were killed during clashes with regime forces in Reef Deir Izzor, Reef Dimashq and Reef Idlib. A defected soldier was killed by regime forces gunfire in Reef Dera’a.
No less than 52 members of the Syrian armed forces were killed during the targeting of buildings and vehicles, and by clashes in the provinces of Reef Dimashq, Dera’a, Homs, Aleppo, Deir Izzor, and Idlib.
IRIN News: Key points
10,000 Syrian Kurdish refugees have fled to Iraqi Kurdistan
They have been welcomed and well-treated
Some say they want to stay in Iraq even if the Syrian conflict ends
This could put the KRG in a difficult position, financially and politically
DOMIZ CAMP, 10 August 2012 (IRIN) – Escaping the summer heat of this Syrian refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan, Nureddin Raouf al-Abdullah enters his two-bedroom home, cell phone in hand.
Artwork hangs on the wall, and a TV sits in the corner.
“Don’t worry,” he tells visitors from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) when they inquire about concerns in the camp. “We can control the disputes in our own community. We don’t need to report small issues.”
Abdullah – recently elected to a refugee committee in the camp – exudes a confidence that reflects his comfort in this camp.
Domiz, 60 kilometres from the Syrian border, is a camp like no other.
Established in April, after Syrian Kurds started fleeing the conflict in Syria in larger numbers, it is already home to more than 2,500 of the 10,000 Syrian refugees who have settled in the autonomous Kur dish region of northern Iraq. New arrivals keep streaming in, at times as many as 100 a day.
“Considering how the situation is worsening in Syria, we could have a big influx,” says Bushra Halepota, head of UNHCR’s office in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. “It’s a natural home for Kurdish people in the region.”
A home away from home
Every tent at Domiz is pitched on a concrete foundation, with a 60cm concrete wall perimeter. Each family – issued a six-month residency upon arrival – has its own cooking unit, shower and latrine made of brick and corrugated sheet metal, as well as an air cooler and refrigerator, distributed by the government. Some refugees have purchased satellite dishes. Others have opened shops and food stands both in and outside the camp.
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is providing special summer courses taught in Arabic so that refugee children are ready for the new academic year in September. About a quarter of the men have already found work – some within days of arrival – as casual labourers in the city. Richer refugees also hire poorer refugees as labourers to extend the perimeter walls around their tents. The refugee committee is even thinking of setting up a recruitment office in the camp where contractors can look for workers.
“Their basic needs are well met for now,” Halepota told IRIN.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, Syrian Kurds have found a home they never had in Syria.
“I came here to my land and my people,” said Lukman Hassan, who came to Domiz from the southern Syrian town of Dera’a, which is much closer to the Jordanian border. “I don’t have relatives here, but they’re all my family.”
Syrian Kurds say they have been robbed of land, property, jobs, rights, even citizenship back in Syria. Tens of thousands of Kurdish families who had lived in Syria for generations only received citizenship in April in an attempt by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to placate the minority.
“They had nothing left in Syria,” said Abdullah, of the refugee committee. “That’s why they came at such a scale.”
The trouble is that they are so enamored with Iraqi Kurdistan they may not want to leave.
“We will stay, even if the government [in Syria] changes,” said a Syrian Kurdish farmer who arrived in Domiz last month but declined to give his name. “The other neighboring governments will not help us, because we are Kurds. Even the new Syrian government won’t help us.”
Hassan told IRIN he thought it would be four or five years before a new government in Syria stabilizes and he is willing to return home.
“We want a government like that of Kurdistan, with freedom and safety. We just want our rights,” he said. “For 40 years, I had no rights. I need to be able to feel human again.”
Photo: Heba Aly/IRIN
Syrian Kurdish refugees have set up a falafel stand in the camp
Others have gone further, calling for a federalist system in Syria.
“If it’s not the same situation as Iraq, with a separate government, I will not go back,” the farmer said.
“Until Syrian Kurdistan is autonomous, it will be more of the same,” Ibrahim said. “We want control of the Kurdish areas. We want our land back.”
So far, KRG has had an open-door policy towards the Kurdish refugees. It has already invested nearly US$2.5 million in the first three months of the response and issued a directive last year that all refugees and asylum seekers should be treated as equals. The Minister of Education visited the camp’s school in July.
Mohamed Abdulla Hamo, head of the government’s Displacement and Migration Office at the camp, said there were “no boundaries” to the number of Syrian Kurds the government would accept. The World Food Programme is already planning on having at least 15,000 mouths to feed by the end of the year, and other humanitarian actors are preparing for more arrivals.
But the prospect of a longer stay is “dangerous” to the head of KRG’s foreign relations department.
“This is supposed to be temporary,” Minister Falah Mustafa told IRIN. “Of course, for us, they are our brothers and sisters. They are not strangers to us. If there is anything we can do to make their lives easier, and to make them feel at home, we will do it. But of course, these kinds of things would be done with resources.”
Though KRG has had support from the international community, it has limited resources. Due to a lack of funds, UNHCR has had to restrict its assistance and minimize plans to expand the camp (it aims to be able to house 7,000-10,000 people).
Support for livelihoods, higher education, employment, secondary-level healthcare and warming systems to help refugees cope with the upcoming winter are all also dependent on additional funding.
In the UN’s regional appeal for Syrian refugees, UNHCR has appealed for $15 million to respond to refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan.
But Halepota said outside funding has fallen flat, with UNHCR depending on its own internal funds thus far: “We will need money very soon to continue the response.”
But given the politicization of the Kurdish population, analysts say KRG may have more than financial considerations in mind.
Syria’s Kurds are now caught between a number of factions vying for influence in the Syrian conflict. Many Syrian Kurds are supporters of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), deemed a terrorist organization by the West for its fight for independence from Turkey. For years, the PKK has been shelling Turkey from its base in northern Iraq, and KRG – which is trying to cultivate a strong relationship with Turkey – has struggled to keep the militants under control.
If it’s not the same situation as Iraq, with a separate government, I will not go back… Until Syrian Kurdistan is autonomous, it will be more of the same.
ers even more complicated, the KRG has been training Syrian Kurds to defend their land in Syria in the event of a security vacuum if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is ousted from power. This has left aid workers worried that the camp could similarly become politicized.
UNHCR says the single men arriving in Domiz left Syria because they had defected from the army, feared military recruitment or were wanted for participating in protests. UNHCR screens them case by case and has found that they meet the definition of a refugee.
“There is this whole issue of the demographics – who is coming in – and this huge concern over the single [men],” said Aurvasi Patel, UNCHR’s assistant representative for protection in Iraq. “But by and large, they are people of concern to UNHCR. We have no indication that they are carrying arms, or belong to any armed group, but we are monitoring the situation.”
Hamo, of the government’s displacement department, acknowledged the refugees represented a range of interests, saying they could be linked to the PKK, the Syrian regime or the fight for Kurdish autonomy. He said KRG has learned from past experiences hosting Turkish refugees linked to the PKK, who drew the KRG into conflict and caused security problems for the region.
“From the humanitarian side, because we are in an emergency, we are receiving the [refugees],” Hamo told IRIN. “But if it reaches a level that jeopardizes the security of the region, then we will have a different approach.”
“As far as we’re concerned, the important thing is for the problem to be resolved,” Minister Falah said, “because the final solution is where people would be back in their homes.”
According to “[n]oted Syria expert Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma” Kurds “Syria’s Kurds are a compact minority, they are not a majority even in the north eastern border area with Turkey – where they constitute some 30-40% of the population.”
Please shrare/re-tweet/shout at the top of your voice:
“No Mr Landis, Syria’s Kurds ARE a majority in Syrian Kurdistan!”
[local time] 21:52 Mosques and Islamic centers across the United States came together Friday to condemn Syria’s brutal crackdown on dissent and raise funds for civilians trapped in the conflict.
21:50 The death toll in Syria on Friday increased to 115 people killed by security forces, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
21:38 The Syrian army is heavily shelling the Daraa town of Dael, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
20:13 Syrian rebels on Friday captured three journalists who work for state television as they accompanied government troops operating near Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
18:43 Syrian rebels say the completely took over the Edleb town of Kafr Nabel, Al-Arabiya reported.
18:16 The United States slapped sanctions Friday on the Syrian state oil company Sytrol for trading with Iran, in bid to starve the regimes in both Tehran and Damascus of much-needed revenue.
17:39 The United States denounced Hezbollah for backing Bashar al-Assad on Friday, and added it to a list of organizations under sanctions for their ties to the Syrian regime.
17:36 The US added Hezbollah to the Syria sanctions list, AFP reported.
17:03 Rebels attacked Aleppo Central Prison and killed several guards, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
17:02 Syrian soldiers repelled an attack by rebels on the international airport in the embattled city of Aleppo on Friday, state news agency SANA reported.
17:01 Regime forces shot dead a 19-year-old protester on Friday in New Aleppo, an upscale district of the embattled city, as they opened fire on demonstrators there, monitors said.
16:57 Several people were killed in a shell that targeted a bakery in Aleppo, AFP reported.
16:57 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in the Qarfa village in Daraa shows anti-regime protesters, including children, chanting in support of the Syrian uprating.
16:33 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in the Erbeen suburb of Damascus shows anti-regime protesters chanting in support of the Syrian uprising.
16:25 Syrian rebels took control of a headquarters belonging to a pro-Syrian regime military unit in Aleppo, Al-Jazeera television reported.
16:14 Friday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 91 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
15:30 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Maarat an-Naaman shows jubilant anti-regime protesters chanting during a funeral.
15:25 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Sara Kanya shows anti-regime protesters chanting against President Bashar al-Assad.
15:25 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Aleppo’s Salaheddin shows Syrian rebels launching a shell against the Syrian regime forces
15:10 The United States plans new sanctions targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its supporters in a bid to put further pressure on Damascus, a US State Department official said Friday.
15:10 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Al-Aasali neighborhood in Damascus.
15:10 Syrian forces killed 83 people on Friday, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
15:06 Syrian forces raided the Al-Qaboun neighborhood of Damascus. (S.N.N.)
14:58 An AFP feature details how a Syrian army soldier captured by rebels outside Aleppo faces trial.
14:57 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Homs’ Talbisa. (S.N.N.)
14:37 Syrian forces shelled Hama’s Kfar Zeta after an anti-regime protest kicked off in the area. (S.N.N.)
14:32 Anti-regime protests started in Al-Qadam neighborhood of Damascus. (S.N.N.)
14:30 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Harasta shows anti-regime protesters marching and chanting on a street.
14:28 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Sahel al-Ghab near Hama.(S.N.N.)
14:28 An anti-regime protest started in Al-Bayada neighborhood in Hama. (S.N.N.)
14:24 Fourty-five bodies were discovered in the Salaheddin neighborhood of Aleppo, Al-Jazeera reported.
14:15 Syrian forces shelled the town of Jisreen near Damascus. (S.N.N.)
14:14 Anti-regime protests took place in Al-Hajar al-Aswad in Damascus, Al-Jazeera reported.
14:11 Anti-regime protests began in a number of areas located in Hama, including Bab al-Qibli and Jarajima. (S.N.N.)
14:11 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Qalaat al-Madiq near Hama. (S.N.N.)
14:06 An anti-regime protest kicked off in the city of Duma near Damascus. (S.N.N.)
14:06 An anti-regime protest started in the village of Aqraba near Daraa. (S.N.N.)
14:04 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Aleppo’s Atareb. (S.N.N.)
14:02 Anti-regime protests kicked off in Houla in the Homs district despite continuous shelling by Syrian security forces. (S.N.N.)
13:58 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Latakia’s Jabala . (S.N.N.)
13:55 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Edleb’s Kafr Nabl shows Syrian rebels carrying out a raid on the “municipality’s checkpoint.”
13:53 Syrian forces opened fire on anti-regime protesters in Aleppo’s Al-Jadeeda neighborhood. (S.N.N.)
13:44 Syrian forces shelled Aleppo’s Tal Rifaat. (S.N.N.)
13:37 An anti-regime protest started in Aleppo’s Al-Jadeeda neighborhood. (S.N.N.)
13:35 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Hama’s Kfar Zita. (S.N.N.)
13:32 An explosion rocked the Rokeneddine neighborhood of Damascus. (S.N.N.)
13:24 Syrian forces shelled the Aleppo neighborhood of Hanano, Al-Jazeera television reported.
13:20 Syrian security forces surrounded the village of al-Qantara in the city of Harasta near Damascus. (S.N.N.)
13:06 Syrian security forces’ warplane shelled the town of Al-Rastan in Homs. (S.N.N.)
12:58 Syrian security forces shelled the town of Zabadani in the Damascus district. (S.N.N.)
12:52 Shelling by the Syrian army has damaged Aleppo’s historic citadel, part of a world heritage site in the heart of the commercial capital, the exiled opposition said on Friday.
12:39 Syrian security forces shelled the villages and towns of Sahel al-Rouj in the Edleb district. (S.N.N.)
12:22 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in the Homs neighborhood of Bab Hood shows the area being shelled by the Syrian regime.
11:50 Britain will give Syrian rebels a further £5 million to buy communications equipment and medical supplies to use in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad, the Foreign Office said Friday.
10:45 The Syrian army sent military reinforcements to the border village of Tal Shehab following clashes with the Jordanian army, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
10:31 More than 2,500 Syrians fled to Turkey overnight amid escalating clashes in strife-torn Syria, a Turkish official told AFP on Friday.
10:15 A Syrian rebel commander vowed his fighters would battle on after their pullback from a key southwestern district of Aleppo as a rights group reported new shelling by the army Friday of rebel areas of the commercial capital, AFP reported on Friday.
9:56 Syrian regime forces renewed their shelling of the Salaheddin neighborhood of Aleppo, Al-Arabiya reported.
7:52 The United States on Thursday dismissed a 29 nation conference on the Syria crisis in Tehran, saying the Islamic Republic had been helping Bashar al-Assad kill his people, AFP reported.
7:45 Lakhdar Brahimi, a veteran diplomat and former Algerian foreign minister, is expected to be named as the new UN-Arab League envoy to Syria in place of Kofi Annan, AFP quoted diplomats as saying Thursday.
Foreign Secretary William Hague says the UK’s commitment of an extra £5m in non-lethal equipment to Syrian opposition groups is “the right thing to do” and will “help save lives”.
The help for unarmed opposition members will include medical supplies and radio and satellite equipment.
But it will not include weapons and is in addition to £27.5m humanitarian aid.
The BBC’s James Robbins says the move is a significant shift in policy after frustration about Syria’s opposition.
Aside from concerns about divisions within the opposition, there have also been complaints that it has failed to set out a clear programme for good government, our correspondent added.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Hague said the funding would go to “unarmed opposition groups, human rights activists and civilians” and that Britain was speaking to people from the political arm of the Free Syrian Army, an armed rebel group which is opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.
Attempts to oust President Assad have led to 17 months of unrest, during which activists claim more than 20,000 people have died.
However, reports of casualties often cannot be independently verified.
The UK is also telling opposition forces they must observe human rights standards.
Syrian people need “urgent help” and “cannot wait indefinitely” for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Mr Hague said, describing them as being at the “mercy of a regime that is hunting down its opponents”.
The UN Security Council, which meets again at the end of this month, has a responsibility to “stop the bloodshed”, he said.Mr Hague said the money “will help people caught up in a terrible conflict. It will be delivered in co-ordination with other countries. It is the right thing to do, while not pausing for a second in our efforts to secure the united robust diplomatic action which this crisis demands.”
The money will be spent on medical supplies such as trauma kits, surgical equipment, medicines and water purification and to assist local doctors with the means to gather forensic evidence for any potential trials in future.
The communications equipment includes mobile and satellite phones and radar equipment. The Foreign Office says it will help protect activists overcome the Syrian government’s jamming and blocking techniques.
The foreign secretary added that body armour would be provided for civilians who were involved in the protection of others.
Mr Hague, who has also described the Assad regime as “doomed”, said it remains British policy not to send arms to Syria.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the UK has been quite vocal at the UN but reluctant to get involved on the ground in Syria.
But the latest announcement is a realisation that the situation will continue to get worse if it does nothing, he added.
Former British foreign secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, says the government should be doing more in Syria.
“The way in which you have to act is to actually take the very difficult decision of providing military support to the insurgents,” he said.
“That way you may enhance the conflict in the short term, in the longer term you’re more likely to save thousands of lives.”
The UK had previously made £1.4m available in “non-lethal support to the political opposition” in Syria which included training and assistance to human rights groups.
The £27.5m in humanitarian aid is for food, medical care, water sanitation and shelter in Syria, as well as for Syrian refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell had announced this week that the amount of assistance being given to the refugees was being quadrupled.
It follows on from £18.4m in UK humanitarian assistance to Libya during the uprising against Colonel Gaddafi last year. This included supplying shelter for both refugees and those made homeless, supporting mine clearance and also helping the World Health Organization to provide medical care.
Jonathan Marcus BBC Diplomatic Correspondent
More medical supplies and communications gear for the civilian opposition in Syria should help to save lives but may not significantly alter the course of the fighting.
There will be body armour too for key activists. But William Hague underlined again that this would go to the civil opposition rather than military fighters. Such a distinction may not always be so easy to maintain.
Britain has shifted its ground – it is now willing to talk to people close to the Free Syrian Army – a tacit admission that to have any influence you have to have lines of communication with the key players involved.
A diplomatic solution to the crisis though is as distant as ever. There will be another UN Security Council meeting at the end of this month.
And Britain’s stepped-up civil assistance is clearly a signal to Russia and China – who in Mr Hague’s view have blocked concerted UN action – that, as he put it, the world does not stand still.
Fighting broke out between Jordanian and Syrian forces in a border region between the two countries overnight, but a Jordanian source said on Saturday no one on Jordan’s side appeared to have been killed.
A Syrian opposition activist who witnessed the fighting said armored vehicles were involved in the clash in the Tel Shihab-Turra area, about 80 km (50 miles) north of the Jordanian capital Amman, that occurred after Syrian refugees tried to cross into Jordan.
“The Syrian side fired across the border and fighting ensued. Initial reports indicate that there has been no one killed from the Jordanian side,” said the Jordanian source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Jordanian troops have fired near the border in the past to stop Syrians from shooting at fleeing refugees.
Western nations and regional powers fear the Syrian conflict could spill into neighboring countries. The 17-month uprising has turned into a civil war with a sectarian angle that has the West lining up with Sunni Muslim nations behind the mainly Sunni rebels and against President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite minority sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.
Syria’s long border with Jordan has been an escape route for opponents of Assad, including Prime Minister Riad Hijab who defected this week.
In Syria’s largest city and commercial hub Aleppo, rebels fighting Assad’s forces said they would hit back after losing ground under heavy bombardment. Residents in the city of 2.5 million have been fleeing in cars crammed with belongings.
The rebels have been pushed back from the Salaheddine district, which controls the approach to the city. They surged into both Aleppo and the capital Damascus last month in their boldest offensive of the uprising.
Assad’s forces have repelled the rebels from Damascus, but are having a harder time dislodging them from Aleppo.
“I have about 60 men positioned strategically at the front line and we are preparing a new attack today,” said Abu Jamil, a rebel commander near Salaheddine. Sniper fire had prevented his men from retrieving a comrade’s body for two days, he said.
Reuters journalists saw residents stream from Aleppo on Friday, seizing on a calm spell to pack vehicles with mattresses, fridges and toys. At least two air force planes and a drone flew overhead. Random shooting echoed from Salaheddine.
Some Salaheddine residents slipped back into the shattered neighborhood to try to salvage possessions, despite army snipers. Two civilians were hit by gunfire in nearby streets.
One man with an apparent gunshot wound was dragged off the street by rebels and treated by medics before being taken to a field clinic. A second man was wounded in the back and arm. Blood soaked through the sleeve of his yellow jacket and his face was contorted in pain as rescuers put him in a vehicle.
In an apparent effort to project an air of normalcy, state television screened footage dated August 10 of a calm Aleppo, including images of its ancient citadel – a U.N. World Heritage site – and cars flowing freely around a traffic circle.
In Damascus, residents reported shelling of the southeastern district of Shebaa and said nine tanks could be seen on the road heading out to the airport.
Assad is trying to crush the revolt against his family’s 42-year rule in the pivotal Arab country. His mostly Sunni foes are backed by Sunni-led states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
NEW U.S. SANCTIONS
The United States imposed another round of sanctions on Friday that targeted Syria’s state-run oil company Sytrol for trading with Iran, and the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah for aiding the Syrian government.
Repeated rounds of U.S. and European sanctions, announced every few months, have had a negligible impact on the war. Russia and China have blocked U.N. Security Council action that would have allowed tighter, global sanctions against Damascus.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Turkey on Saturday, where she will discuss Syria with Turkish officials. Turkey, a NATO member and regional military power, has emerged as one of the main opponents of Assad.
U.S. officials are particularly interested in Turkey’s analysis of the political forces emerging in Syria, hoping that together they can puzzle out the complex patchwork of rebel groups jockeying for position.
Iran, Syria’s closest foreign ally, called for “serious and inclusive” talks between Assad’s government and the opposition at a meeting of countries sympathetic to Assad in Tehran on Thursday.
“There will be no winner in Syria,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to the conference. “Now, we face the grim possibility of long-term civil war destroying Syria’s rich tapestry of interwoven communities.”
Diplomats said veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi could be named next week to replace the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, who quit in frustration after his peacemaking efforts proved futile.
Brahimi said U.N. Security Council states and regional powers needed to work together to bring peace.
Assad’s offensive to reassert control over Aleppo follows a successful drive to expel rebels from parts of Damascus that they seized after a bomb in the capital killed four of his senior aides on July 18.
His grip on the country has been eroded and his authority was further shaken by his prime minister’s defection this week, but his forces have also consistently demonstrated their overwhelming firepower advantage against lightly-armed rebels.
GENEVA - Growing numbers of Syrian civilians are fleeing abroad to escape conflict at home, especially in Aleppo, and Turkey is building more refugee camps in anticipation of a larger exodus, the United Nations said on Friday.
Nearly 150,000 refugees have registered in four neighboring countries since the conflict began 17 months ago, it said, while others are reaching Maghreb countries and southern Europe.
The total includes 50,227 in Turkey, where more than 6,000 Syrians arrived this week as Syria’s largest city of Aleppo came under heavy bombardment from government forces. The number of refugees registered in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq is also rising.
“There certainly in the past week has been a sharp increase in the numbers arriving in Turkey, and there many of the people are coming from Aleppo and surrounding villages,” Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing.
“Now if you look at other areas, I think that the situation is more of a steady and continued increase, but where fighting happens we tend to see the consequences,” he said.
Rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Aleppo promised a counter-attack on Friday after losing ground as residents fled in cars crammed with belongings during a lull in the fighting.
Before the battle for Aleppo began, the United Nations said an estimated 200,000 residents had fled the city, which is close to the Turkish border.
If that figure is accurate, it is not clear why the exodus did not result in a flood at the border, though the UNHCR has said it has anecdotal evidence of military roadblocks and “irregular violence” such as snipers making it a difficult journey.
Turkish authorities plan to double their capacity in order to receive up to 100,000 refugees and are building up to 13 new sites in addition to nine existing camps, Edwards said.
With the possible expansion of a camp in Jordan to take up to 150,000 refugees, Syria’s neighbors are bracing for a potential flood of people trying to get away from the fighting.
The UNHCR has appealed for Syria’s neighbors to keep their borders open, having doubled its forecast in June for the number of registered refugees this year to 185,000.
Given the current outflows, the agency is considering revising upwards its contingency planning figure, Edwards said.
In addition, an estimated 1.5 million Syrians have been uprooted within their country and need international assistance, according to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and United Nations.
There are 45,869 Syrian refugees registered in Jordan, 36,841 in Lebanon and 13,730 in Iraq – which has also seen the return of 23,228 Iraqis from Syria since July 18.
“In several countries we know there to be substantial refugee numbers who have not yet registered,” Edwards said.
Many Syrians have taken temporary refuge in Lebanon, staying with relatives or in hotels, and the total in that country is far higher than the number that have asked the UNHCR for help.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said last week that it was better for the refugees to be able to live among the Lebanese population, but “at a certain moment the encampment situation might be necessary”.
Some Syrian refugees have also turned up in other countries including Algeria, Egypt and Morocco, and Evros, the Greek region that borders Turkey, he said, adding that the numbers were “really tiny” compared to the flows to Syria’s neighbors.
A fishing boat carrying 157 people, including 124 Syrians fleeing escalating violence in their homeland, was intercepted close to the southern Italian coast and towed to the port of Crotone late on Wednesday, Italian police said.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Additional reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Andrew Osborn)