Friday, 07 November 2014 10:29

Turkey Warns of Threat to Aleppo From Assad and Fears New Refugee Influx

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has accused Syrian forces of committing massacres by barrel-bombing areas in and around Aleppo and said Turkey would face a major new refugee crisis if Syria's second city were to fall into his hands. As U.S. warplanes bomb Islamic State forces in parts of Syria, President Bashar al-Assad's military has intensified its campaign against some rebel groups in the west and north that Washington sees as allies, including in and around Aleppo. Ankara has been pushing for the U.S.-led coalition to broaden its campaign to tackle Assad as well as Islamic State, arguing there can be no peace in Syria if he remains in power. "We are watching the developments in Aleppo with concern. Though the city is not on the verge of falling, it is under extreme pressure," Davutoglu told reporters late on Tuesday after meeting Turkey's top generals. "If Aleppo were to fall, we in Turkey would really be confronted with a large, very serious, worrisome refugee crisis. This is why we want a safe zone," he said. Mohammed Qaddah, vice president of the Syrian Coalition, criticizes the US-led anti-ISIS alliance’s policy in Syria and its failure to provide the FSA with military aid in its battle against regime forces that are on the brink of encircling Aleppo. "The US-led anti-ISIS coalition’s singling out of the city of Kobane to receive military support while ignoring the rest of Syrian cities is unacceptable and detrimental to Syria’s national interests. Moreover, this selectivity in dealing with the situation in Syria, while aimed at serving specific international and regional interests, insists on ignoring the demands of the Syrian people for toppling Assad and building a state of law, justice and democracy," Qaddah said. Bader Jamous, member of the political committee, said that the international anti-ISIS alliance's ignoring of the FSA's calls for urgent military aid especially in northern rural Aleppo is incomprehensible and unacceptable, warning of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe if regime forces continue advancing on the city and encircling it. "With the onset of the US-led coalition's strikes against ISIS positions in Syria, the Assad regime has escalated attacks on the FSA-held areas, committing more than 40 massacres against civilians. Regime forces also continue to wrench away areas held by the FSA. which it is feared would undermine the Syrians' confidence in the goals of the international anti-ISIS alliance," Jamous said. Moreover, he criticizes the US-led alliance's concentration on one Syrian town while turning a blind eye to the rest of Syrian cities that have been hammered by Assad's artillery and barrel bombs. "Any further progress by regime forces around Aleppo would decrease the chances of winning the battle against ISIS in the long run. The liberation of northern rural Aleppo has been one of the revolution's most important achievements, and the failure to supply the outgunned and outnumbered FSA fighters there with military aid would be seen as betrayal of the revolution." French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also said this week that Aleppo, the "bastion" of the opposition, was almost encircled by Assad's forces and that abandoning it would end hopes of a political solution in Syria's war. France has echoed Turkey's calls for a buffer zone in Syria, but the idea has so far failed to gain much traction elsewhere in the coalition. He calls on the international anti-ISIS coalition to shift its focus to saving Aleppo which is “threatened with the same death and destruction that the regime has inflicted on Homs and the suburbs of Damascus.” Fabius said in an article that was published the Le Figaro, the Washington Post and Al Hayat newspapers that “Syria’s second-largest city and part of humanity’s ancient heritage, Aleppo is the martyred center of the resistance to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, having been under constant bombardment by his forces since 2012. Now Aleppo is caught between the regime’s “barrel bombs” and Daesh’s cutthroats. The city is almost entirely encircled, connected to the outside world by a single road to Turkey. The regime is seeking to destroy the resistance through cold and hunger. While 1 million people have left to join the flood of Syrian refugees, some 300,000 Aleppans are holding on, threatened with the same death and destruction that the regime has inflicted on Homs and the suburbs of Damascus. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Al Jazeera)

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