Rockets kill 18 in gov’t-held areas of Syria's Aleppo

Rockets kill 18 in gov’t-held areas of Syria's Aleppo
Wed Dec 4, 2013 20:10:56

Rockets have killed at least 18 people in government-held areas of Syria's main northern city of Aleppo, a focal point of the 33-month conflict pitting loyalists against foreign-backed militants.

The multiple rocket attack on Wednesday on the Furqan and Meridian districts of Aleppo, the country's pre-war commercial capital, also wounded at least 30 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

State television said at least 17 people were killed in the attack, AFP reported.

Aleppo has been one of the main battlegrounds of the Syrian conflict since militants seized large swathes of the city in an offensive launched in July last year.

The international community has become increasingly alarmed about the potential spillover into neighboring countries of the war that has killed an estimated 126,000 people since it erupted in March 2011.

On the political front, Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi stressed on Wednesday that Assad would remain president and lead any transition agreed at the Geneva talks scheduled for January 22.

"If anyone thinks we are going to Geneva 2 to hand the keys to Damascus over (to the opposition), they might as well not go," he said in remarks carried by the official SANA news agency.

The conference is envisioned as a follow-up to the Geneva 1 meeting of June 2012, at which the two sides agreed on the formation of a transitional government without specifying what role Assad would have in it.

The plan was never implemented.

The dispute over Assad's role, and the endemic divisions among both the external opposition and militants battling on the ground, have cast doubt over whether the two sides can even reach an agreement let alone implement it.

According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- support the militants operating inside Syria.

HH/HH

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