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Syrian regime sweeps deeper into rebel-held Aleppo Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Syrian regime sweeps deeper into rebel-held Aleppo

The regime continues its advance into East Aleppo as civilians flee [AFP]

Date of publication: 27 November, 2016

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Fierce fighting has continued in rebel-held East Aleppo, where the Syrian regime is looking to capture the last remnants of the city outside its control.
Syrian regime forces have moved deeper into rebel-held Aleppo after seizing the city's largest opposition-controlled district on Saturday.

Regime troops and militia allies captured two more neighbourhoods, as the rebel resistance weakens following massive air raids.

"The army and its allies retook control of Jabal Badro and Baadeen," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Both districts are adjacent to Masaken Hanano which was retaken on Saturday.
 

The capture of Masaken Hanano - which had been the biggest rebel-held district of Aleppo - was a major breakthrough for the regime during its 13-day offensive to retake the entire city.

The fighting moved to neighbouring districts, including Haidariya and Sakhur on Sunday with the threat of the whole of East Aleppo falling to Damascus appearing more likely.

Regime war planes pounded rebel positions and civilian areas, while on the ground heavy clashes continued between the opposition and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday with hundreds reportedly fleeing their homes.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed 400 people fled to regime-held West Aleppo, with regime media releasing footage it claims to show civilians moving out of East Aleppo.

These claims have been disputed by opposition activists, and they say the fight to defend Aleppo will continue.
We are strengthening our positions to defend the city and residents.
- Yasser al-Youssef, Nour al-Deen al-Zinki

Yasser al-Youssef, from the rebel group Nour al-Deen al-Zinki, said that opposition fighters were consolidating their positions in Sakhur.

"We are strengthening our positions to defend the city and residents, but the aircraft are destroying everything methodically, area by area," he said, referring to a regime campaign of air strikes on the city.

Sakhur lies on a stretch of just 1.5 kilometres (less than a mile) between west Aleppo and Masaken Hanano, now both controlled by the regime.

If the regime did manage to take control of the district, east Aleppo would be split in two from north to south, dealing a further blow to the armed opposition.

Pro-regime media reported government forces continued their advance on Sunday.

The latest regime push comes after days of intense bombardment on the east, which has been pounded with air strikes, shells and barrel bombs.

On Saturday, dozens of families fled Sakhur and Haidariya as regime raids and artillery fire killed at least 18 civilians in several districts, the UK-based Observatory said.

That took to 219 the overall number of civilians killed, including 27 children, since the government launched its latest assault on east Aleppo on 15 November.

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