Syrian rebels urge U.S. to stop ISIL advance on Aleppo

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NICOSIA — Syria’s rebel movement has warned of a collapse amid the advance of the military and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The Western-backed opposition has urged the United States and other allies to stop the ISIL advance toward the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

Free Syrian Army fighters shoot from behind a damaged car during an offensive against forces loyal to Bashar Assad in Aleppo.  /Reuters
Free Syrian Army fighters shoot from behind a damaged car during a battle with forces loyal to Bashar Assad in Aleppo. /Reuters

The opposition, which oversees the Free Syrian Army, said ISIL was capturing one rebel stronghold after another amid a shortage of rebel fighters and ammunition.

“We call on the international community to use the American Air Force, or those of any other country to support the Free Syrian Army,” the Syrian National Coalition said.

The opposition reported ISIL’s capture of more than 10 villages and towns in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo during August. ISIL, equipped with U.S.-origin armored vehicles and artillery captured in Iraq, was said to have advanced to Marea, the last major rebel stronghold in the province and a supply base for fighters in Aleppo.

“Aleppo is in severe trouble,” the coalition said.

President Barack Obama, however, has refused U.S. intervention in Syria. In contrast, Obama ordered hundreds of U.S. troops to as well as daily air strikes against ISIL in Iraq.

The opposition has reported heavy fighting between rebels and ISIL around Marea and Azaz, located near the Syrian border with Turkey. Rebel militias were said to have deployed fighters from around northern Syria to stop the ISIL advance.

“There is fierce fighting on Saturday [Aug. 16] between rebels and ISIL around Marea,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

ISIL’s advance from the north has been accompanied by an offensive by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The opposition said the Syrian Army, Hizbullah and the National Defense Forces were surrounding Aleppo from the north and east, the location of the last rebel strongholds in the city.
On Aug. 18, the opposition said rebels downed a Syrian Air Force plane near Hama.

“On Friday night [Aug. 15], the army and pro-regime militias launched a fierce assault that continued until dawn on the outskirts of Handarat as well as the strategic Kindi Hill,” Syrian Observatory, referring to the Aleppo battle, said.

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