BOMBING, NOT INTO SUBMISSION: “This is how the market place for al-Safira city looks now,” says Abu Shadi, the videographer documenting the damage to the town on Tuesday. Al-Safira sits 25km southeast of Aleppo, alongside the strategic alternative desert road leading from Syria’s largest city south to Hama. Regime forces have been trying to capture the town through intense bombing, a regular tactic it has employed throughout the war.
The air force continued to drop bombs on Wednesday as the government continues the battle for the terminus of the Aleppo-Homs desert road.
Al-Safira is known as one of the first towns in the province to turn out in protests against President Bashar al-Assad in early 2011. Its population is estimated at around 100,000.
The Arabic-language Iranian channel al-Alam reported Wednesday that “the Syrian Army is advancing from the south of al-Safira city” while conceding that “there have been calls for assistance from some armed groups.” Ten days ago Al-Alam claimed the road was completely clear for government forces, which was not the case. The rebels are hanging on this last section of the highway. Its capture would open the way to enter Aleppo from the east.
Al-Safira’s strategic importance also stems from a nearby regime weapons-manufacturing factory where, according to rebels, chemical weapons have been stored.
While the government continues to hold the factory, opposition brigades control the town as civilians camp along its fringes in an attempt to avoid causalities from the continued air assaults.