First Published: 2013-11-13

Jihadists call for mass mobilisation to counter army advances in north Syria
Assad army advances on Islamist-held northern village of Tal Hassel, located about 12 kilometres (seven miles) from Aleppo.
Middle East Online

Islamists suffer string of setbacks

BEIRUT - The Syrian army advanced Wednesday on the Islamist-held northern village of Tal Hassel, a monitor said, as jihadist rebels in nearby Aleppo called for mass mobilisation to counter the offensive.

Fighting raged at Tal Hassel, located about 12 kilometres (seven miles) from Aleppo, the country's pre-war commercial hub, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Jihadist fighters in Aleppo have called for mass mobilisation to counter regime advances after the Islamists suffered a string of setbacks around the northern city.

In a statement posted online, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) called on "all brigades and Muslims to arms to face off against the enemy which is attacking Islamic territory".

"Those with a valid excuse not to fight must supply weapons and money," added the statement, which acknowledged "many losses in fighting for Base 80, Khanasser and Sfeira".

It said President Bashar al-Assad's forces, which it dubbed "the Alawite army", had taken "part of the road linking Khanasser, Tal-Aran and Sfeira because of the weakness of rebel groups".

The statement put this down to "many rebel units withdrawing from the combat zone".

Six Islamist rebel groups, among them Al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and Liwa al-Tawhid, had on Monday issued a general call to arms in Aleppo "to face up to regime attacks".

A military source said on Monday the army had secured most of the area around Aleppo International Airport and could reopen the facility which fighting has kept closed for nearly a year.

This came after regime forces retook Base 80, a strategic facility charged with securing the airport just outside the country's second city.

Aleppo airport was closed at the start of the year amid security concerns as rebels launched a campaign to seize airfields in the area.

Advances by the army follow the fall of Sfeira southeast of Aleppo. It was recaptured by regime troops at the beginning of November, after months in rebel hands.

Both state media and the Observatory said on Monday the army had also secured Tal Aran town, one of the last areas under rebel control on the Sfeira-Aleppo road.

Amid the ongoing clashes, ISIL released a video of two jihadists in Aleppo holding up the head of a man they said was an Iraqi Shiite who had been fighting on the side of the regime.

The Observatory said the decapitated man was a rebel.

 

Russian, Turkish FMs meet for first time since ties repaired

Four ministers sacked from Libya's unity government

At least 70 killed in north of Syria's Aleppo

Iranians mark annual Quds Day

Egypt becoming departure country for migrants to Europe

Turkish ship carrying Gaza aid leaves for Israel

Diplomatic quartet says Israel must cease settlement expansion

Monitor says Syrian regime pilot captured by rebels

Palestinian dies from tear gas fired by Israeli forces

Palestinian tries to stab Israeli in West Bank, shot dead

Ankara suicide attack mastermind killed

Istanbul airport attackers ‘planned hostage-taking’

Oil prices rise in Asia

US Navy probe finds leadership failings in Iran capture

Quartet report says Israel must urgently halt illegal settlement expansion

At least 70 killed in northern Aleppo clashes

Sisi praises Egyptian 'revolution' against Morsi

US-backed Syria rebels look to cut off ISIS from Iraq border

Egyptian Coptic priest shot dead in El-Arish

Iran sacks heads of four state banks over high pay

EU agrees to opens new chapter with Turkey on accession talks

Detained RSF Turkey representative released

Lebanese army says ISIS attacks foiled, 5 arrested

UN extends Darfur mission despite Sudan opposition

Air strikes kill 150 militants fleeing Fallujah

Turkey detains 13 over airport attack

Palestinian killed by Israeli troops after deadly attack

UN envoy seeks Syria peace talks’ resumption in July

Tunisian killed in Istanbul attack seeking to repatriate IS-linked son

Turkish forces kill 2 suspected IS jihadists at Syria border

Egypt president urges religious reforms to counter extremists

First aid convoy since 2012 enters two besieged Syria towns

Race to succeed Cameron begins after stunning Brexit vote

Yemen peace talks to take two-week break

Iraq secures $2.7 billion US military loan

ISIS pushes back Syria rebel offensive on Iraq route

Israel cabinet approves Turkey reconciliation deal

Turkey airport attack slams limping tourism industry

Putin lifts Turkey travel restrictions, orders trade 'normalised'

Fears for stranded Syrian refugees as Jordan blocks access

Bahrain activist back in jail despite worsening health

41 killed in Istanbul airport bomb, gun attacks

Witnesses recount Istanbul attack

Car bomb kills 10 in Kurdish-held Syria town

Ban to Israeli PM: Gaza blockade ‘collective punishment’