Syrian Planes Bomb Aleppo

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda makes an appearance
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2012 7:48 AM CDT
Syrian government troops are seen on a military tank as it catches on fire during clashes with Free Syrian Army soldiers in Aleppo, Syria.   (AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video)

(Newser) – Syrian military planes dropped bombs on Aleppo today, in a dramatic escalation of the conflict, according to a BBC reporter on the outskirts of the city. It's the first aerial bombing of the conflict, the Washington Post says, speculating that the regime is trying to intimidate rebels with its yet-untapped firepower. Aleppo is Syria's most populous city, and had been considered a bastion of regime support. Now it's being shelled, strafed by attack helicopters, and activists tell Reuters an armored column is advancing on it.

Elsewhere in Syrian developments:

  • Video has surfaced of men calling themselves Free Syrian Army fighters standing before al-Qaeda flags and promising to form "suicide cells to make jihad in the name of God," the New York Times reports. Al-Qaeda's presence has long been rumored, and al-Qaeda in Iraq has lately issued statements explicitly linking the Syrian insurgency to its own. But one former Assad official has alleged that the regime is also working with the terrorist network.
  • Turkey has announced that it is blocking all truck traffic through its border, in an effort to block supply routes, but will still allow refugees to pass.
  • Refugees have also begun pouring into Iraq, viewing even that troubled state as safer than Syria, Reuters reports. "The war is between the two sides. They are shooting at each other and the people are just the victims," one refugee said.
  • Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, struck an optimistic tone, saying that increasing military gains by the rebels would create "safe havens" inside the country. "We have to work closely with the opposition," she said.

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