First Published: 2013-07-31

 

Fierce fighting for town in Syria chemical weapons row

 

Syrian troops attack rebel positions outside Khan al-Assal in bid to recapture northern town in Aleppo province.

 

Middle East Online

BEIRUT - Syrian troops attacked rebel positions outside Khan al-Assal on Wednesday as they seek to recapture the northern town at the centre of rival chemical weapons accusations, a watchdog said.

Fierce fighting erupted on the outskirts of the town, which the rebels seized on Monday of last week inflicting heavy losses on the army, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The army lost 150 soldiers over two days, 50 of them summarily executed after their capture in an act condemned by the mainstream opposition leadership.

The government has been keen to recapture the town, the last to fall out of its control in the western half of Aleppo province.

The town was the scene of what both the government and the opposition say was a chemical weapons attack that killed 30 people on March 19.

The Syrian government says the rebels carried it out, and its ally Moscow says it has concrete proof.

The opposition says President Bashar al-Assad's regime was behind it and Washington has said it has seen no firm evidence of rebel responsibility.

The Damascus government has pressed for Khan al-Assal to be the primary focus of a planned UN inquiry into a total of 13 allegations of chemical weapons use during the 28-month conflict.

The rebels' capture of the town last week came as two UN envoys visited Damascus to thrash out the ground rules for UN weapons inspectors. They came away with an agreement but UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said he is still reviewing the details.

 

IS jihadists move closer than ever to central Damascus

UN confirms Palmyra temple destroyed

Turkey police raid anti-Erdogan media group after British reporters jailed

Shebab attack Somalia AU base

Over 10,000 Icelanders ready to welcome Syrians

Turkey government says it 'had no role' in reporters' arrest

IS claims Tripoli car bomb near oil firm

Dispute with Israel government keeps Christian schools shut

Kuwait charges 24 'linked to Iran' with plotting attacks

New Turkey caretaker government holds first meeting

Dozens of Lebanon protesters occupy environment ministry

Will Erdogan's political gamble solve Turkey poll impasse?

Libya loyalist forces battle IS jihadists in Benghazi

South Sudan peace deal in jeopardy

Pressure builds on Europe as refugee crisis exposes splits

Israel confirms jail for Druze ex-MP over visit to Syria

Egypt much delayed elections to start on October 17

Palmyra temple appears ‘largely intact’ after ISIS blast

Turkey to offer cash rewards for tips on ‘terrorists’

Yemen children's hospital on the verge of shutting down

In gruesome video, ISIS shows burning alive of Iraq Shiite fighters

Four years after famine, situation in Somalia remains alarming

A year on, recapture of Yazidi hub remains a distant prospect

EU leaders call for action to defend migrants’ 'dignity'

IS blows up parts of famed Palmyra temple

Deadly fire at housing complex of Aramco in Saudi Arabia

In historic first, Saudi Arabia allows women to run in local elections

Israel repels protesters with tear gas at separation barrier in West Bank

ISIS brutality in Syria: Over 90 people executed in one month

Bashir to visit China despite international arrest warrant

Egypt summons British envoy in row over Al-Jazeera trial

Yemen war seeks to stop ‘Iran expansion’ in Arab region

Lebanon protesters to government: Meet our demands of face escalation

Calls for action on refugee crisis mount after Austrian tragedy

Kuwait lawmaker describes Iran as 'true enemy' of Gulf Arabs

Two French journalists charged with bid to blackmail Morocco King

Algeria detains former intelligence chief

Kurdish forces free seven Iraq villages from clasps of ISIS

Toll in Libya shipwreck tragedy rises to 111

Egypt court hands Al-Jazeera reporters three years in prison

UN to host new round of Libya peace talks next week

US names ‘First Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs’

Mounting death toll of security forces triggers questions in Turkey

Deadly terrorist blast rocks Karanah suburb in Bahrain

Brief truce between Syria regime and rebels collapses