Breaking News: UN chief Ban Ki-moon told world powers on Friday they must overcome their rivalries to put an end to the “proxy war” in Syria, as deadly fighting raged in Damascus and the country’s second city Aleppo.
Ban spoke ahead of a UN General Assembly vote that overwhelmingly condemned the Security Council for its failure to act and condemned President Bashar al-Assad’s use of “heavy weapons” in the nearly 17-month civil war.
Shells rained down on rebel positions in Aleppo as fighting was reported in Syria’s commercial capital and in Damascus, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting at least 70 people killed across the country.
At the same time, new weekly anti-regime protests were held across Syria in solidarity with the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, which troops have pounded for weeks.
The day’s slogan was “Deir Ezzor — victory comes from the east,” and the Observatory reported claims that 70 percent of the strategic oil-producing province which borders Iraq is now in rebel hands.
In Aleppo, hundreds gathered in Al-Shaar neighbourhood chanting: “The people want the execution of Bashar!” and “The people want freedom and peace,” an AFP reporter at the scene said.
As jet fighters and helicopter gunships swooped over Aleppo, the Observatory reported demonstrations in several neighbourhoods and fierce clashes in the rebel-held Salaheddin district.
A Syrian security source said troops were “testing the terrorists’ defence systems… before annihilating them by carrying out a surgical operation.”
In Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry expressed serious concern over rebel attempts to gain control of Aleppo and condemned foreign nations for providing the opposition with military supplies.
“Moscow is very worried by the dangerous development in the situation, the violence and provocations aimed at expanding the scope and the cruelty in the civil war,” the ministry said.
The Observatory also reported protests in the Kurdish region of Hasakeh, Daraa province in the south and in the northwestern province of Idlib, where one demonstrator was shot dead.
Also in Idlib, five rebels were killed in an army ambush, the Observatory said, while the official SANA news agency said regime forces killed 17 “terrorists” in Aleppo.
There was also fighting in Damascus, where six civilians were killed as loyalist forces moved on rebels a day after shelling killed 21 civilians at the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, the Observatory said.
It also reported shelling of the Jdaidet Artuz district southwest of Damascus as fighting erupted around Marj al-Sultan military airport.