Damascus: A pro-government Syrian newspaper says the Army has started "a very delicate operation" to purge Aleppo and entire Syria from the "Jihadists" as the recovering Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar pledged to eradicate "terrorism”.
"The Syrian Army started on Saturday a delicate operation in the northern province of Aleppo to eradicate terrorism that has swept some areas there and to reinforce law and order and liberate the people of Aleppo from the terrorists` fist," al-Watan daily said.
The paper charged that the "terrorists" have been sent from different parts of the world in a mission to bring down the Syrian state and instil the law of chaos and lawlessness.
Al-Watan quoted what it called foreign journalists as saying that hundreds of foreign fighters have sneaked to Aleppo from Turkey.
Other local media placed the number of foreign fighters currently in Aleppo at 12,000. Meanwhile, the paper, close to the government, said the fighters include "jihadists from Tunis, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Egypt and French people of Arab origins”.
It contended that those fighters are being equipped with very sophisticated means and weapons. In the capital Damascus, the paper said tranquillity has prevailed in most of the city, save for some bursts of gunfire heard every now and then. In the central Homs province, al-Watan said the competent authorities are still hunting down "remnants of armed groups" in a number of areas such as Khalidieh and Qarabis.
The battles in Aleppo started a week ago, when the armed rebels announced the commencement of the battle "to free Aleppo" after being dislodged from the capital, Damascus. The city has witnessed intense clashes on Saturday in what some pro-government media said the Army`s operation to regain control of Aleppo, the commercial capital of Syria.
The activists` group Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said as many as 113 unarmed civilians were killed on Saturday nationwide.
Meanwhile, Minister of Interior Lieutenant General Mohammad al-Shaar said that the Syrian Army and law-enforcement personnel will eliminate terrorism in all its forms and restore security and stability to the homeland.
In an interview with the Syrian TV on Saturday, al-Shaar called on the people "who were misled and carried weapons to return to their senses and vowed to help them in this regards”.
On the allegations made by some media outlets on his death in the explosion, which had targeted the National Security Office in Damascus, al-Shaar said: "This is not strange as these news pieces are part of the psychological warfare waged against Syria."
Al-Shaar was among top officials of President Bashar al-Assad`s inner circle when the bombing ripped through their meeting and killed four of Assad`s cronies. The recent escalation of battles have raised the ire of the international community that warned the Assad regime of continuing the military solution while at the same time having no qualms in rendering all kinds of support to the armed rebels.