Syrian rebels plead for U.S. military help as Assad forces close on Aleppo

McClatchy reports: Rebels opposed to President Bashar Assad called Friday for help from the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, saying the Syrian military is close to encircling the city of Aleppo and cutting off rebel supply routes to Turkey.

In a statement, the Syrian Opposition Coalition, once hailed by the United States as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people, called for U.S. assistance, warning of dire results if Assad’s forces are able to seize the town of Handarat, just north of the Aleppo city limits. That would cut the Castello road, which is the only route in and out of the rebel-held eastern portion of Aleppo, essentially trapping the rebel forces.

Whether the U.S. would even consider assisting the rebels, however, is unclear. A senior military official in the United States said the U.S. military had received similar requests in the past but that he did not know if this specific one had been received. U.S. officials have said that the battle against the Islamic State and not the fight to topple Assad is their current priority. [Continue reading…]

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