Rebels pull back in Syria's Aleppo, U.N. says no one will win
By Hadeel Al Shalchi and Suleiman Al-Khalidi
ALEPPO, Syria (Reuters) - Syrian forces have pushed rebels back from a strategic district of Aleppo, but skirmishes continued in the city and the United Nations said the conflict engulfing Syria would have no winner.
Diplomats told Reuters that veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi could be named next week to replace the U.N.-Arab League Syria envoy Kofi Annan, who resigned in frustration at the international deadlock on how to end the violence.
But they warned there could be last-minute changes if a key government had concerns or the candidate had second thoughts.
Assad, engaged in an all-consuming fight with his mostly Sunni opponents, appointed a Sunni as his new prime minister on Thursday after his predecessor fled on Monday in the highest-level defection so far in the uprising that began 17 months ago.
Wael al-Halki, from the southern province of Deraa where the revolt began, replaces Riyad Hijab, who had spent only two months in the job before making a dramatic escape across the border to Jordan.
Assad's authority was already shaken by the assassination last month of four of his top security officials and by rebel gains in Damascus, Aleppo and swathes of rural Syria.
But he has persevered with a crackdown on opponents seeking to end half a century of Baathist rule and topple a system dominated by members of the president's minority Alawite sect.
He has focused his fierce army counter-offensive on Syria's two main cities, reasserting control over much of the capital Damascus before taking the fight to the northern commercial hub. Continued...