Share This Page

Syrian army drops leaflets in north amid fighting

| Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

The Syrian military dropped leaflets on opposition-held territory in the country's north on Wednesday, urging rebel fighters to surrender as the two sides fought for control of a major highway.

The psychological tactics are part of a relentless regime offensive against rebel forces that have recently acquired shipments of badly needed advanced weaponry from Gulf Arab states. Similar campaigns in the past by the regime to reach out to rebels through leaflets and SMS messages failed to achieve results.

The battle for Idlib province in the north is one of a series of flashpoints as government forces wage a fresh campaign against the rebels on several fronts. Regime forces are in firm control of the city, while dozens of rebel brigades hold rural areas outside.

The battle for the highway leading from Latakia province, a mountainous region along the Mediterranean, into Idlib province is crucial to rebel efforts to retain control of the villages and towns they hold in the area. The regime uses the highway to transport weapons and other supplies from the coastal stronghold to its troops in the north.

“Abandon your weapons and return to your family,” read one of the leaflets dropped in Idlib and addressed to foreign fighters.

The leaflets signed by the General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces instruct rebels to approach Syrian government checkpoints slowly while waving the paper in the air as a sign of surrender.

The U.N. estimates that more than 93,000 people have been killed in Syria since the anti-Assad revolt began in March 2011. With so much bloodshed and much of the country still contested, the regime's call to surrender was highly unlikely to find any takers on the rebel side.

Idlib holds strategic value to the rebels because it borders Turkey, which has been a critical source of weapons shipments and other supplies. Latakia province, meanwhile, is predominantly home to members of the president's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.