Syria PM makes rare visit to Aleppo and promises aid

December 17, 2012 20:15


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BEIRUT - Syria's prime minister made a rare visit to the war-torn city of Aleppo on Monday and pledged $4 million in aid, a state television station said.

The TV station offered no photos or film of the visit, the first in months by a senior figure in the government of President Bashar Assad.

The visit by Wael al-Halki, who took office after his predecessor Riad Hijab defected earlier this year, may be seen as an attempt to show the Syrian government still has a grasp on the country's largest city.

Rebels control many districts in Aleppo since launching a campaign this summer, and most of the countryside surrounding the city is now in the hands of rebels pressing their 21-month-old revolt against Assad.

Civilians in these areas have been facing huge hardship, with a constant shortage of food and fuel. Rebels and the government have traded blame for the lack of help to opposition-held areas, where clashes rage regularly and the army bombs with artillery and war planes.

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