REUTERS, BBC NEWS, AL ARABIYA (Saudi Arabia)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned that the conflict between rebels and government forces across Syria will "decide the fate of the nation."
This is a big admission by Assad: 'the fate of Syria hinges on this battle'. Likely to be justification for the scale of the response #Syria Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) August 1, 2012
Al-Assad, who has not spoken in public for two weeks, issued a written statement published by the official media agency SANA on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of the army, Al Arabiya reports. In his speech, Assad praised soldiers for confronting "criminal terrorist gangs" and also accused "internal agents" of helping foreign enemies "destabilize the country."
The statement comes after an eventful night that saw combat aircraft and artillery pounding Aleppo, as the army battled for control of the country's biggest city (see video below) where rebel fighters said troops loyal to al-Assad have been forced to retreat, Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, NGO Amnesty International issued a report entitled "All-Out Repression", accusing Syria's government of being responsible for mass human rights violations that amount to crimes against humanity in Aleppo and surrounding areas, according to BBC News.