Syrian human rights activists called on Sunday for the international community to intervene in order to prevent a massacre in the Syrian city of Aleppo, following two days of battles between rebels and regime forces.
The head of the main Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Council, called for international help in arming the rebels to face the Assad regime's heavy weaponry, particularly tanks.
"If the international community cannot act, they should support the opposition with anti-tanks missiles and anti-aircraft rockets," Abdel Basset Sida told the Gulf News during a stopover in Abu Dhabi. "We seek international supporters to arm our uprising against the regime."
Activists say opposition fighters control large swathes of territory across Syria's largest city. The government has been struggling for a week to beat back their assault and stem the tide of recent rebel advances in the civil war.
Syrian tanks and artillery pounded rebel-held neighborhoods in the commercial hub of Aleppo on Sunday in a bid to retake control. Despite the Syrian military's logistical advantages, it has still not managed to retake control of rebel-held areas. The rebels say that they are in control of a number of strategic sites in Aleppo, the home of more than 5 million residents, and have managed to gain control of two armored personnel carriers of the Assad regime.
In parallel to the battles in Aleppo, activists reported a massacre in a village in the area of Daraa in the south of the country. Eye-witnesses reported seeing dozens of bodies of citizens that were killed by stabbing. The Syrian military blamed the massacre on "terrorist groups," while the opposition blamed the military and mercenaries hired by Assad. In addition, activists reported battles in Homs and Hama. The Syrian National Council also called on the UN Security Council to meet and take a decision on Syria.
The violence has sent refugees flooding into countries bordering Syria including Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. Jordan said it had opened its first tent camp for Syrians, saying a surge of refugees forced it to do so.
Some 200,000 people have fed Aleppo in the last two days of battles, according to United Nations estimates.
Meanwhile, the Assad regime accused regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia, Qatar andTurkey of trying to destroy the country. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have expressed willingness to help fund the rebels and they are believed to be funneling money through Turkey to the opposition, which is using it to purchase arms and equipment.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now