"We have regrouped in the neighboring district of sukkari and are preparing a counterattack," local FSA commander abu omar al-halebi told the german press agency by phone. President bashar al-assad’s chief of protocol, meanwhile, denied having defected to the insurgents.
A cameraman who was at the scene of the fighting in salaheddin reported seeing the bodies of more than 25 rebels who had been killed there. Civilians also lost their lives in the fighting, he said. Enormous damage was done to the buildings. Some were destroyed to the ground – an indication of the use of aircraft bombs and heavy artillery by regime forces.
The syrian military launched a new attempt the day before to beat back the insurgents from the city of one million people that has been under siege for almost three weeks. Both parties to the conflict and observers see the outcome of the battle for aleppo as a preliminary decision with regard to the fate of the regime of bashar al-assad. According to syrian human rights monitors in london, 170 people were killed in the civil war country on wednesday alone, 43 of them in aleppo.
According to information from the foreign office, there is also a german in prison in aleppo. According to a report in the "suddeutsche zeitung" newspaper, the 51-year-old, who also holds a syrian passport, complains about inadequate support from the federal government. After the deportation of other detainees, he feared for his life.
Assad’s chief of protocol moheddin muslimani, meanwhile, denied that he had defected to the insurgents. "These reports are baseless, i am fulfilling my duty in the presidential palace," syrian state news agency sana quoted him as saying on thursday. A few hours earlier, the saudi news channel al-arabija had reported that muslimani had joined the rebels.
Assad appointed former health minister wael al-halki as the new prime minister on thursday, syrian state television reported. He replaces the previous head of government, riad hijab, who defected to the insurgents on monday and is now abroad.
Meanwhile, iran, the assad regime’s closest ally in the region, is trying to get into the diplomatic game. Auben minister ali-akbar salehi opened a conference on the situation in syria in tehran on thursday. According to him, representatives from 30 countries came to the conference, including delegates from russia and china. These are states that have taken a "realistic position" on the syrian conflict. Saudi arabia and turkey, which unlike iran support the syrian rebels, did not attend the meeting. Only three countries sent their ministers of defense.
"Iran has always supported all efforts for peace in syria and intends to do the same with this conference," salehi said in his opening speech. "Military options, kidnappings and foreign interference have not helped the country so far and will not do so in the future," salehi continued.