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Tuesday 07.04.2020 | Name days: Helmuts, Zina, Zinaīda

Syria rebels hold out in Aleppo

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Syrian rebels have held out for another night in the city of Aleppo as a government offensive enters its fourth day.

In Aleppo, rebels said they were holding out in the strategic south-west area of Salah al-Din, rejecting government claims to have retaken it.

«We always knew the regime’s grave would be Aleppo. Damascus is the capital, but here we have a fourth of the country’s population and the entire force of its economy. Bashar’s forces will be buried here,» said one young fighter named only as Mohammed, quoted by Reuters news agency.

Thousands of people are continuing to flee the city, adding to a growing humanitarian crisis in the region.

Most of refugees are women and children, with the men opting to stay and fight

Meanwhile, the US and Turkey have agreed to step up efforts to achieve «political transition» in Syria, which would include the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, BBC reported.

In a phone call on Monday, US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also agreed to help the growing numbers of refugees – both inside Syria and in neighbouring countries.

Turkey has been a staunch critic of President Assad and has given refuge to large numbers of army defectors. Thousands of Syrian refugees are also living in refugee camps on the Turkish side of the countries’ long border.

As the crisis deepened, Iran – a close ally of Damascus – warned Turkey not to intervene militarily, the Syrian state-controlled al-Watan newspaper said. «Any attack on Syrian territory will meet with a harsh response, and the Iranian-Syrian mutual defence agreement will be activated,» it reported on Monday.

In New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon repeated that he was particularly concerned by the continued use of heavy weapons by Syrian government forces.

He also called on the Syrian government to renounce the possibility of using chemical weapons under any circumstances, and to secure its stockpiles.

Damascus has implicitly acknowledged its possession of chemical weapons but said it would not use them against its own people, only against foreign invaders.

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