The Syrian government claimed it had seized parts of the northern city of Aleppo from rebel troops, saying it had “purged” the district of Salahhedine and inflicted “great losses” on the rebels. Syrian opposition activists said the fighting in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, continued. The government of Bashar al-Assad launched a major assault on Aleppo over the weekend. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is on his way to the Middle East, said that Assad is hastening his own demise. “If they continue this kind of tragic attack on their own people…I think it ultimately will be a nail in Assad’s coffin,” Panetta told reporters on the plane from Washington. “His regime is coming to an end.”
Meanwhile, a Turkish official said the deputy police chief of Syria’s western Latakia city, a brigadier general, defected and fled to Turkey overnight with 11 other Syrian officers.