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Syria opposition pulls out of talks

| Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 8:51 p.m.
REUTERS
A man cries at a site hit on Friday by what activists said was a Scud missile in Aleppo's Ard al-Hamra neighbourhood, February 23, 2013. Rockets struck eastern districts of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city, on Friday, killing at least 29 people and trapping a family of 10 in the ruins of their home, activists in the city said. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Syria's opposition coalition pulled out of talks next month in Rome to protest what it calls the “shameful” failure to stop the violence in the war-torn country, the BBC reported.

“The international silence on the crimes committed every day against our people amounts to participating in two years of killings,” the National Coalition posted on Facebook early Saturday.

It declined invitations for talks in Washington and Moscow, singling out Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“The Russian leadership especially bears moral and political responsibility for supplying the regime with weapons,” the group said.

In Aleppo, the battle for Syria's second-largest airport intensified as government troops tried to reverse recent strategic gains the rebels have made in the northeast.

Assad's forces have been locked in a stalemate with rebels in Aleppo since July when the city, the largest in Syria, became a major battlefield in the 2-year-old conflict the United Nations said has killed at least 70,000 people. For months, rebels have been trying to capture the international airport, which is closed because of the fighting.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group, said the fighting is focused on a section of a highway linking the airport with Aleppo, the commercial hub of the nation.

The rebels have cut off the highway, which the army has been using to transport troops and supplies to a military base within the airport complex. Rebels have made other advances in the battle for the airport in recent weeks, including overrunning two army bases along the road to the airport.

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