Forces battle to control Syrian cities

Aug. 4, 2012 at 1:28 PM
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ALEPPO, Syria, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A rebel takeover of a government radio and TV building in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, was beaten back Saturday by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.

Free Syrian Army fighters planted a flag on the top of the building before retreating, CNN reported.

Also Saturday, a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims was intercepted en route to the Damascus airport and its passengers kidnapped, Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The shrine of Hazrat Zeinab, the Prophet Mohammed's granddaughter, is a popular pilgrimage destination for Iranian Shiites.

Iranian state media blamed the kidnapping on "armed terrorists" and put the number of victims at 48, CNN said. Iran is one of Syria's few remaining friends in the Middle East.

New clashes also were reported in Damascus where troops loyal to Assad pushed into rebel-held parts of the capital, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.

At midday, Russian-made MiG fighter jets attacked rebel positions in northern Aleppo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed a clash between Syrian snipers and rebels attempting to take over a radio and television station in the northern part of the city. The organization said the station's terrestrial signal had been cut.

The SOHR said 110 people had been killed in conflicts Friday, including 88 civilians.

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