Syrian forces begin Aleppo offensive

Aug. 8, 2012 at 2:21 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Syrian government forces have begun a new ground offensive in Aleppo, rebel leaders said Wednesday.

Dwindling ammunition supplies have forced the Free Syrian Army to retreat from some neighborhoods in the commercial hub, leaders told The New York Times. A man who identified himself as Abu Mohammed, head of the Shahbaa Brigade, said in a telephone interview he expects a long battle for Syria's largest city because of the ammunition shortage.

Also Wednesday, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition group, said that FSA commanders have signed a code of conduct that bans torture and pledges to "refrain from any behavior or practice that would undermine the principles of our revolution: the principles of freedom, citizenship, and dignity," CNN reported.

The code was drawn up after reports last seek that an FSA unit had carried out summary executions of a clan in Aleppo supporting President Bashar Assad.

"As the ranks of the Free Syrian Army expand and its brave fighters fight a national, multi-front battle, there has become a need for rules to govern their work. These rules must combine the spirit of the national duty they carry out today in facing the aggressor, Bashar Assad and his regime, and moving towards the regime's ouster and the interests of justice and military discipline," the LCC said.

While Assad has little support outside Syria, an envoy sent by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei visited Damascus on Tuesday and called the conflict one front in a wider war against the United States and other western powers.

"What is happening in Syria is not an internal Syrian issue but a conflict between the axis of the resistance and its enemies in the region and the world," Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said in remarks broadcast over Syrian state TV and semi-official Addounia TV during a meeting with President Assad in the presidential palace in Damascus.

The broadcast of the Assad-Jalili meeting was Assad's first televised appearance since an opposition Free Syrian Army bomb killed four of his top security officials July 18.

"Iran will never allow, in any form, the breaking of the axis of resistance, of which Syria is an intrinsic pillar," Jalili said in the TV remarks.

The "axis of resistance" usually refers to a Shiite Islam anti-Israel alliance between Iran, Syria and the Lebanese radical Shiite movement Hezbollah.

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