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Syrian Troops Wage Fierce Ground Assault in Aleppo’s Saleheddine District

August 8, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
While the government troops moved into the rebel-held Salaheddine district of Aleppo, thousands of Syrians continue to flee from the country, including to the first U.N refugee camp in Jordan. Judy Woodruff reports.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The fighting in Syria grew more intense today. Troops loyal to the government assaulted rebel strongholds in Aleppo in one of their biggest ground attacks since rebels seized chunks of Syria’s biggest city three weeks ago.

Those left in this small town just outside Aleppo climbed over rubble today, even as the city itself came under a fierce ground assault. State TV reported government troops made a major push into Aleppo’s Salaheddine district, southern gateway to the city. Rebels claimed they repelled the attack.

Overhead, government warplanes kept up their strikes across the region, adding more bomb craters. Indeed, these satellite images show hundreds of impact craters from bombing and shelling in and around Aleppo.

Amnesty International released the images today, compiled from late July into early August. Hundreds of refugees have escaped the fighting, pouring across Syria’s borders looking for safety. Another 2,400 crossed into Turkey overnight. And the first official U.N. refugee camp in Jordan was rapidly filling.

ANDREW HARPER, United Nations high commissioner for human rights: Last night, we had another 600 Syrians cross the border, and again mostly women and children. And, unfortunately, what we don’t know is how many more Syrians are going to be following every night, and that’s the difficult issue. We have just got — every night that we put up more tents, they are fully occupied, so it’s — it’s a never-ending battle at this point.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Syrian refugees told stories of the violence and terror they left behind.

AHMED AL-SAYYED, refugee (through translator): I have called relatives in Syria, and they told me the situation is tragic. They are slaughtering the people in underground shelters, killing children and raping women. That’s what they have told me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Also escaping to Jordan, Syrian Premier Riyad Hijab, the highest-level defector so far. His arrival was confirmed today.

SAMEEH MAAYTAH, Jordanian information minister (through translator): We were expecting his attempt to enter Jordan, so we were ready to deal with this case if it happened, and that’s what happened on Wednesday morning.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Syrian rebels continued to hold 48 Iranians who were seized over the weekend. Iran today acknowledged some are retired soldiers or Revolutionary Guards, but it claimed they were religious pilgrims and not on active service.