When it comes to threats against Syria, Britain, as always, leads the way. British Foreign Minister William Hague, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon standing beside him, told reporters in London on Friday, that "I am deeply concerned by reports that the Syrian government is amassing its troops and tanks around Aleppo, and has already begun a vicious assault on the city and its civilians," he said. "The violence from both sides must stop for the sake of suffering civilians in Syria." He demanded that the Syrian government "halt the offensive."
Not far behind Hague is UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, who expressed "deep alarm" Friday over what she called a buildup of tanks, attack helicopters and jet fighters in urban areas with civilian populations. "Civilians and civilian objects—including homes and other property, businesses, schools and places of worship—must be protected at all times," she said. "The government has the prime responsibility to protect civilians from all forms of violence."
Also on Hague's heals is US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who said "This is the concern, that we will see a massacre in Aleppo."
While Britain's minions are putting the blame fully on Damascus for whatever happens in Aleppo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that international support for the rebels would lead to "more blood," and said that the government could not be expected to give in to the rebels. "Pressure must be put on everyone," he said at a joint news conference in Sochi with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba. "Unfortunately, our Western partners prefer to do something a bit different and essentially, along with some countries neighboring Syria, encourage, support and direct the armed fight against the regime. The price of all this is still more blood." Lavrov added that Russia is calling on the government to "take the first steps," but that the rebels should not occupy cities and towns. "The city of Aleppo is occupied by the armed opposition and the next tragedy is brewing there as I understand it," he said. "Well armed opposition groups are occupying cities, intending to create some sort of buffer zones for a transitional government. How can one expect that the Syrian government will say 'yes, go ahead, overthrow me.' This is unrealistic—not because we are holding onto the regime, but because it just doesn't work."
The Wall Street Journal article that quotes Hague also notes that the rebels also commit atrocities, and quotes one rebel commander, saying that pro-government forces who resisted occupation of neighborhoods in Aleppo by the rebels, "got their punishment," that is, they were summarily shot. The Journal notes that reports of executions "will likely strengthen support for the government in some quarters if it makes good on vows to 'cleanse the city from terrorists.'"
Meanwhile, reports of increased fighting in Aleppo are flowing out by the minute, but as Russia Today notes, the reporting is contradictory as to who's doing what to whom. Mainstream media is blaming the government, but witnesses on the ground interviewed by RT tell a different story. One Arab TV reporter told RT that rebels are attacking government buildings, and the Syrian army is only acting in defense. He also contradicted media reports that residents are fleeing Aleppo in droves, some families are leaving, he said, but most people are seeking shelter within the city. Syrian media is reporting that the government has begun "a major antiterrorist operation" in Aleppo, and the Syrian Al Watan newspaper reports that the rebels are mostly mercenaries from Arab countries with connections to Al Qaeda.