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Syria Crisis: Aleppo Car Bomb Blast Kills At Least 30

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SYRIA ALEPPO BOMB
In this Saturday, Sept 8, 2012 photo, Syrian doctors treat a wounded Free Syrian Army soldier in the Izaa district of Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) | AP

BEIRUT — Syria's most prominent defector said in an interview that aired Monday that he opposes any foreign military intervention in the country's civil war and that he is confident the opposition can topple President Bashar Assad's regime.

But Manaf Tlass, a Syrian general who was the first member of Assad's inner circle to join the opposition, said the rebels need weapons.

"The Syrian people must not be robbed of their victory, they must be given support, aid, arms," Tlass said in a recorded interview that aired Monday on French television station BFM.

He called on outside powers to give the opposition "all the aid and support" needed to topple Assad.

Foreign military intervention, however, "could not provide a solution" to the conflict, he said. The uprising against Assad's regime began in March 2011 with mostly peaceful protests against the family dynasty that has ruled Syria for four decades. But the battle has transformed into a civil war, and activists estimate that at least 23,000 people have been killed.

Tlass' defection in July was hailed as a resounding triumph by many Syrian opposition activists. But many in the opposition are deeply suspicious of Tlass, saying he is just trying to vault to power. In the weeks after he abandoned the regime, Tlass began touring regional powers to garner support for the uprising.

"My role is to unify, bring together my people, that is my role," he said in Monday's interview.

Tlass, who is in his forties, is the son of former defense minister Mustafa Tlass, who was the most trusted lieutenant of the late Hafez Assad, the president's father and predecessor.

Although the Assad regime has been hit by a string of defections, the inner circle has remained remarkably ironclad over the course of the conflict. Still, the government has not been able to crush the rebellion, leading to a murderous grind.

The new U.N.-Arab League envoy to the country, meanwhile, said the Syrian people are desperate for peace and stability.

Lakhdar Brahimi said he will travel to Syria this week to meet with regime officials as well as civic groups in a new bid to broker a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

"I answer to no one except the Syrian people," Brahimi told reporters in Cairo, where he was meeting with Arab League officials and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. "Syrians aspire to peace, stability and to realizing their goals of freedom and political progress."

Brahimi replaced former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who stepped down in August in frustration after his six-point peace plan that included a cease-fire collapsed.

The fight for Aleppo, a city of 3 million that was once a bastion of support for Assad, has emerged as one of the main battlegrounds of the civil war. Its fall would give the opposition a major strategic victory with a stronghold in the north near the Turkish border. A rebel defeat, at the very least, would buy Assad more time.

Syria's state run news agency, SANA, said Monday the death toll from a car bomb in the city the night before had risen to 30 civilians – including women and children – with 64 people wounded.

The blast happened near two hospitals. According to Aleppo-based activist Mohammed al-Hassan, one of the hospitals, Al-Hayat, was turned into a site for the treatment of government troops shortly after the fighting in Aleppo began in July.

SANA also reported that the blast was caused by a small truck rigged with more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of explosives, which left a crater 6 meters (20 feet) deep.

SANA blamed terrorists, the term the regime uses for rebels, for the attack. But there was no immediate claim of responsibility from the rebels or any other group.

Some opposition activists disputed the SANA claim that the dead were all civilians. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing hospital sources that it did not name, said members of the military were among the dead.

It was impossible to confirm the claims. Syria heavily restricts media access to the country, making official media and activist reports crucial sources of information.

___

Keller reporter from Paris. Associated Press writer Maggie Michael contributed to this report from Cairo.

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lebanon Hussein Ali Omar, 60, one of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims that Syrian rebels have been holding for three months in Syria, hugs his mother, right, upon arrival at his house in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, 2012. Syrian rebels freed Omar on Saturday in a move aimed at easing cross-border tensions after a wave of abductions of Syrian citizens in Lebanon. The Shiite pilgrims were abducted May 22 after crossing into Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)


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France24 correspondents Matthieu Mabin and Sofia Amara report from the front lines of a rebel offensive against the Syrian army in Damascus.

Watch the exclusive report in the video below.

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syria This image made from video and released by Shaam News Network and accessed Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, purports to show the funeral of children in Daraya, near Damascus, Syria. Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopters broke into a Damascus suburb on Thursday following two days of shelling and intense clashes as part of a widening offensive by President Bashar Assad's forces to seize control of parts of the capital and surrounding areas from rebel fighters, activists said. At least 15 people were killed in the offensive on Daraya, only a few miles (kilometers) southwest of Damascus. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network SNN via AP video)


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Clashes between Assad supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime killed two people in Lebanon on Friday, the Associated Press reports. 17 people were injured.

The AP gives more context:

Syria was in virtual control of its smaller neighbor for many years, posting tens of thousands of troops in Lebanon, before withdrawing under pressure in 2005. Even without soldiers on the ground, Syria remains influential, and its civil war has stirred longstanding tensions that have lain under Lebanon's surface.

Read more on HuffPost World.

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lebanon A Sunni gunman fires a gun during clashes that erupted between pro and anti-Syrian regime gunmen in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. The latest round of fighting first erupted on Monday in northern Lebanon and at least 15 have been killed in Tripoli this week and more than 100 have been wounded in fighting that is a spillover from Syria's civil war. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)


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@ KenRoth : UN reports 200,000 #Syria refugees, 30,000 in past week alone. Many more internally displaced not counted. http://t.co/BaM6u59j

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syria Syrian boy Musataf Alhafiz, 11, who fled his home with his family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, carries his brother Saif, 9 months, while he and others take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Thousands of Syrians who have been displaced by the country's civil war are struggling to find safe shelter while shelling and airstrikes by government forces continue. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)


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Helicopter gunships shelled Damascus on Wednesday as Syrian security forces intensified their assault on the capital. Activists report that at least 47 people were killed.

"The whole of Damascus is shaking with the sound of shelling," a woman in the neighborhood of Kfar Souseh told Reuters.

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@ jenanmoussa : Graphic. We saw in a mosque in #Syria these 4 children staring at dead body. Pic by @HaraldDoornbos: http://t.co/lgq8IAmO #warsucks @akhbar

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lebanon Lebanese commandos ride in an armored personnel carrier in preparation to enter the area of clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. The civil war in Syria is affecting its fragile, tiny neighbor Lebanon in countless ways and has already spilled over into sectarian street clashes, kidnappings and general government paralysis.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)


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Activists say that Syrian security forces swept through two districts in Damascus on Wednesday, killing at least 31 suspected opposition fighters. The Associated Press reports that the army may have been targeting rebel teams that had been using the Nahr Eishah and Kfar Soussa neighborhoods to shell a nearby military airport.

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@ AP : Russia says Western powers are "openly instigating" opposition groups in Syria: http://t.co/Il6rHsxr -SC

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