World Bulletin / News Desk
A local rebel commander in Aleppo said rebels still control more than half of Syria's biggest city after a month of fighting and aerial bombardment, and that the military stalemate was playing into the hands of President Bashar al-Assad's opponents.
Assad sent reinforcements to the northern commercial hub in July to seize control back from rebel fighters who had swept into Aleppo from their rural strongholds, and authorities said the army's mission could be accomplished within days.
Using air power, artillery and ground forces, the army has pushed rebels back in strategic southwestern districts which form a gateway into Aleppo along the main highway from Damascus.
But despite their military superiority, Assad's forces have yet to press home their advantage across the city, and the military commander of the rebel Fatah Brigade in Aleppo said a lengthy conflict would give his fighters time to grow stronger.
"The main target of this phase (of fighting) is to win time," Major Anas Ibrahim Abu Zaid told Reuters by telephone.
"If we hold our ground and continue the attacks, the longer we do that (the more) the regime will lose on the international, regional and local fronts, and the position of the rebels will firm up and give us a chance to re-arm," he said.
The Fatah Brigade, one of the biggest rebel units fighting in the city of 2.5 million people, has 1,300 fighters in Aleppo and another 500 in the surrounding province, Abu Zaid said.
He said the rebel units were fighting in an arc of southwestern districts - Salaheddine, Saif al-Dawla, Amereya and Sheikh Saeed - which have seen some of the heaviest clashes and bombardment over the last several weeks, as well as two neighbourhoods in the north-east, Bustan al Basha and Midan.
Assad's air force was unable to target the rebels when they directly confronted ground troops, for fear of hitting their own soldiers, Abu Zaid said.
"We have six open fronts in the city and this is where the fighting is taking place," he said, adding that rebels held 60 percent of the city.
In practice, rebel control of urban areas is tenuous, as they are constantly vulnerable to artillery attack and air strikes from helicopter gunships and bombardment from jets firing rockets and dropping bombs.
In Damascus, the army took just a few days to clear rebels from central districts, though fierce fighting continued for weeks in outlying neighbourhoods and heavy clashes have raged in town surrounding the capital.
Many rebel units fight under the loose umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, although there is no real unified command. Abu Zaid said that on the ground, the fighters were cooperating.
"There is high coordination between the brigades. There are fronts that are the responsibility of a (single) brigade and other fronts that are shared," he said. "We call other brigades for help when needed."
Murtala Nyako, the governor of Adamawa State, claimed that most of the violence in the northeast region is being committed by "militias" and soldiers engaged by the central government, not by Boko Haram militants.
Sacred Family Foundation is enjoying a popularity boost due to Berlusconi's future community service.
Another strong earthquake hits Solomon islands in the Pacific Ocean.
East Turkestan, otherwise known as China's Xinjiang province, has seen increasing crackdowns on its native Uighur Muslim community as of late.
Ukraine's government, short of effective forces, has shown little sign of trying to recapture the dozen or so town halls, police stations and other sites seized over the past two weeks, despite proclaiming the launch of an "anti-terrorist operation".
Speaking at a press conference in western Cairo on Saturday, Mortada Mansour said that he would throw his weight behind former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi's bid to run for Egypt's president.
Former head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Mustafa Jemilev, who is now a Ukrainian lawmaker based in Kiev, feared that he would not be allowed to enter Crimea after Russia produced a blacklist of individuals barred from the peninsula.
The Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account the explosion was in the village of al-Maqshaa', along the Budayya highway, outside of the capital Manama.
The violence was triggered by a dispute between two motorists – a Muslim and a Christian – over who should pass first in Al-Khusus, a city within the northern Qalioubiya province.
"The government [of North Sudan] has a lot of blood on its hands," Jehanne Henry, HRW's representative in South and North Sudan said.
James Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, was the mastermind behind the program which used methods amounting to torture to extract information from suspected terrorists, including water-boarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation.
Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who attended a ceremony on Yonaguni island to mark the start of construction, suggested the military presence could be enlarged to other islands in the seas southwest of Japan's main islands.
Leaflets threatening Jews with deportation carry the seal of ‘Donetsk People's Republic’ together with a number of Russian symbols.
"The dam will contribute share in efforts to extricate Ethiopia from poverty and will also benefit the people of Sudan," Hussein Yassin Hamad, the governor of the Blue Nile State.
Diyala has been the site of growing activities by pro-government militias.
Hamdeen Sabahi has submitted his candidacy application after collecting the required number of written endorsements from eligible voters.