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An image from amateur video released by Ugarit News purports to show Aleppo under fire. The AP cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the image. (AP)

It's 'Army Foundation Day' In Syria; President Assad Praises Troops

Aug 1, 2012

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Korva Coleman

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This is the day 67 years ago Syria created its modern army. President Bashar Assad released a statement saying the country depends on its troops to win the war against the enemy.

Titled, "Syrian Army Trustee of People's Values against Terrorist Gangs", it continues in turgid language with phrases like "You represent the aspiration of our people" and "You wrote the greatest epic of heroism and pride". The summation ends with Assad urging continued military readiness and a greeting to the "martyrs" who died fighting for Syria.

Interestingly, his statement was written and not delivered in live remarks; Assad's whereabouts aren't known. He's not appeared since a bombing two weeks ago killed four members of his inner circle, including the country's defense minister and his brother-in-law.

He's not likely to be in Aleppo, where jet fighters started strafing the big city, trying to stop rebels battling government troops for control. A U-N spokeswoman told the Telegraph UN observers watched government jets bomb Aleppo, and said, "the last 72 hours saw a significant increase in the level of fighting".

Amnesty International says human rights violations are occurring in Syria's biggest city. The human rights group alleges Syrian government troops and pro-government militiamen shot at peaceful Syrian protesters and bystanders, attacked medical teams and "hunted down the wounded".

War crimes aren't limited to the Syrian army. Reuters notes rebels appear to have posted online their execution of four pro-government militiamen. The men are lined up against a wall and suddenly firing erupts and lasts for a long time. "As the smoke clears, a crumpled pile of bodies can be seen by a wall."

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