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Syria: Iran hosts Talks, violence escalates and more defections

AL ARABIYA (UAE), REUTERS (UK), BBC (UK)

– The Free Syrian Army told Al Arabiya on Thursday that Bashar al-Assad’s chief of protocol had defected, amid an escalation of violence across the country.

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Muhui al-Din Maslamani is reportedly safe in an undisclosed location in Syria. The rebels are also claiming that more defections in the Syrian regime are imminent.

– Syria’s largest city Aleppo has come under fierce attacks from Syrian troops in an attempt to retake various districts of the city through the use of air strikes and shelling, the BBC reports.

A house hundred meters away from us got hit by plane. Huge explosion. Earth trembling. #Aleppo @akhbar

— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) August 9, 2012

We are trying to get out of #aleppo. Very difficult. Planes in sky. @akhbar

— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) August 9, 2012

– Iran is hosting a summit for foreign ministers in an attempt to resolve the escalating violence. However, a senior Iranian diplomat said earlier in the week that no nation that supports the opposition would be present, Reuters reported.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the summit would welcome countries that have “a correct and realistic position” on the Syrian conflict.

Russia announced Wednesday that it would be sending a delegate to Tehran. The statement read: “Naturally, we intend to firmly pursue our line [calling for] an immediate end to bloodshed and the suffering of the civilian population, as well as for achieving a peaceful resolution in the interest of all Syrians through a broad political dialogue.”

Russia’s strategic maneuvering in the UN, along with China, has shielded the Syrian regime from sanctions and full-scale international intervention.