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Syria Live Coverage: Aid Reaches an Opposition-Held Town

European officials visit Azaz on Friday

See also EA Video Analysis: Two Lessons from The Israeli Airstrikes Inside Syria
Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Beatings, Molotovs, & a Death in Clashes
Friday's Syria Live Coverage: Fighting in and Near Damascus

1729 GMT: Iran Visit. State media carries a claimed quote from Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, after his meeting today with President Assad: "We will give all our support so that Syria remains firm and able to face all the arrogant (Western) conspiracies/>[? >[?"The Israeli aggression and arrogant international forces have tried to take revenge by attacking the resisting Syrian people."

1708 GMT: Russia and the Opposition. Moaz al-Khatib, the head of the opposition National Coalition, says he has met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Al-Khatib said he had received a "clear invitation" to go to Moscow for talks: "Russia has a certain vision but we welcome negotiations to alleviate the crisis and there are lots of details that need to be discussed."

1522 GMT: Iranian Visit. Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, is in Damascus today for meetings with President Assad, Prime Minister Wael al-Halki, and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.

Jalili was last in Syria in August. No details were given of the reason for this visit.

(Cross-posted from Iran Live Coverage)

1505 GMT: Opposition Meeting in Munich. head of the Syrian National Coalition Moaz Al-Khatib, US Vice President Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and UN Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, will all meet together in Munich today --- sort of. Apparently, they will not all meet at the same time because Lavrov refuses such a meeting. What's interesting, however, is that is seems Lavror may meet with Opposiotion leader al Khatib, but he seems to be suggesting that he won't do that with Joe Biden in the room.

US Vice-President Joe Biden, head of the Syrian National Coalition Moaz Alkhatib, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a round of meetings - but apparently not all at the same table, as the opposition had hoped...

"Media reports of a meeting in Munich in the format of Lavrov-Biden-Brahimi and Syrian opposition representative Alkhatib do not correspond with reality," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.

Russia's Interfax news agency cited a Russian source as saying that Lavrov would meet Alkhatib.

1450 GMT: Death Toll Reaches 53. 53 people have been killed so far today nationwide, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria:

28 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs, 12 martyrs in Aleppo, 4 martyrs in Hama, 3 martyrs in Idlib, 2 martyrs in Deir Ezzor, 2 martyrs in Homs, 1 martyr in Daraa and 1 martyr in Banyas.

See our note on the casualty figures published by the LCC.

1245 GMT: The Insurgent Commander. C.J. Chivers of The New York Times profiles Abdulkader al-Saleh, a.k.a. Hajji Marea, the commander of the Al Tawhid Brigade fighting in Aleppo.

Not long after the uprising began, he joined with neighbors and relatives to organize demonstrations against what he described as the government’s repression.

When the fighting began, and rebels formed underground cells to plan ambushes, make bombs and persuade government soldiers to defect, Mr. Saleh’s standing grew. People spoke of a successful commander who was honest, organized and almost serenely calm under fire.

In many quarters his identity remained unknown. “We were secretive,” he said. “The public knew there was someone named Hajji Marea who led the demonstrations. But nobody knew who he was.”

0945 GMT: Aleppo. After days of fighting, insurgents have taken the Sheikh Saeed district of Aleppo, according to a resident and activists.

"Rebel fighters seized total control of Sheikh Saeed in southern Aleppo, after troops exhausted by 48 hours of fighting withdrew from the district," the resident said. "Most neighbourhood residents fled the area after rebels took control."

Sheikh Saeed is on a key route linking Syria's largest city to its international airport. Activists said the takeover also severed regime forces' access to a military airfield.

0930 GMT: Then and Now. Today is the 31st anniversary of the "Hama Massacre", in which the regime of President Assad's father killed tens of thousands of people in Syria's fourth-largest after an uprising against its rule:

0812 GMT: Casualties. The Local Coordination Committees claim 94 people were killed on Friday, including 34 in Damascus and its suburbs and 29 in Aleppo Province.

0652 GMT: Aid. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has reached opposition-held Azaz, in northern Syria near the Turkish border, for the first time. Workers said they found about 45,000 displaced people living in "appalling" conditions in makeshift camps.

The UN has been blocked by the regime from getting to insurgent territory, although some aid agencies such as Medicins Sans Frontieres have operated in the area. This week the UN finally received landing permits for planes., and permission was graned for trucks to move without the threat of aerial attack.

Ten of thousands of Syrians, unable to cross into camps in Turkey, have congregated near the border. UNHCR official Yacoub El Hillo told reporters, "On this [Syrian] side it is makeshift camps in appalling conditions. So hopefully this will be the first of many, many convoys that we will be operating."

The UNHCR said eight trucks delivered 15,000 blankets and 2,000 tents this weekto more than 10,000 people.

In a sign of the larger problem,  the UN children's agency said 420,000 people --- half of them children --- need immediate help in Homs in central Syria.

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