Saturday, March 2, 2013 – Scott Lucas in EA Live, EA Middle East and Turkey, Middle East and Iran, Razan Ghazzawi, Syria, Walid al–Moallem
Fire burns over southwestern Aleppo on Friday
1232 GMT: Foreign Minister in Iran. Meeting Iranian officials in Tehran, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem has condemned US “non-lethal” aid to the insurgency.
“I do not understand how the United States can give support to groups that kill the Syrian people,” al-Moallem said during a press conference with Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi. “This is nothing but a double-standard policy … one who seeks a political solution does not punish the Syrian people.”
The Foreign Minister continued, “For dialogue to succeed, the violence must stop. Halting violence starts by [draining the fighters’ sources], as we are facing terrorist groups linked to Al Qa’eda.”
1157 GMT: Fighting. Claimed footage of insurgents, with tanks, moving into the grounds of the police academy near Aleppo:
Helping the wounded after regime shelling of the Jobar section of Damascus — intense fighting is reported on the ground:
1057 GMT: Damascus. French expatriate Jean Pierre Duthion reports from the capital:
1050 GMT: Fighting. Back from a Saturday break to find the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claiming a battle on the outskirts of the northern city of Raqqa, near the Turkish border.
The Observatory claimed, “Army troops shelled several city neighbourhoods, as well as the outskirts, while the clashes left dozens of troops and rebels dead.” The Observatory and activists in Raqqa said the army was using helicopters to strafe rebels in some parts of the city.
Claimed footage with the sounds of the fighting:
0810 GMT: An Activist’s Story. Human rights activist Razan Ghazzawi talks about her experiences since the start of the uprising in March 2011:
0640 GMT: Fighting Around Aleppo. Heavy fighting was reported on Friday near Aleppo city and elsewhere in Aleppo Province.
That is far from new, but what was distinctive were reports of regime gains after a general pattern of insurgent advance in the area, while Aleppo city is locked in a seven-month military stalemate. The Syrian military retook the Yarubiyah crossing on the Iraqi border, after insurgents captured it 24 hours earlier. They also moved into Tel Shghaib, which would be part of a re-opened land supply route from Hama Province into Aleppo.
Clashes were reported near the Nairab military airport, three miles north of Tel Shghaib. The Local Coordination Committees claimed 125 people were killed on Friday, including 54 in Aleppo Province, and 45 in Damascus and its suburbs. The total number of dead recorded by the Center for Documentation of Victims is now 50,958 — 41,317 civilian and 9641 non-civilian.