LONDON (AP) — The leader of the Syrian Olympic team is choosing his words carefully to describe the ambitions of the country's athletes and the government, whose forces are besieging his home city.
Maher Khayata tells The Associated Press he is worried about his family, trapped in the city of Aleppo during one of the most important battles of a 17-month uprising against the government of Bashar Assad.
Activists say the army is pounding Aleppo to flush out rebels in the Syrian civil war.
Khayata says the army is trying to "protect people and keep them safe." He says that laying the siege to the country's largest city "is maybe the way to stop bloodshed throughout Syria."
Three Syrian athletes are competing on the first full day of competition in London.