Rebel bid to break Aleppo-siege checked by regime counteroffensive
Syrian regime forces backed by heavy Russian air raids recaptured a series of hilltops and villages on the southwest edges of Aleppo city from rebel groups, activists said on Wednesday.
The advance rolls back the short-lived gains from a rebel offensive launched on Sunday to ease the government's siege of eastern opposition-held districts of the divided city.
Regime fighters seized two hilltops and two small villages in the southwest suburbs of Aleppo late on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"The regime is launching counter-attacks to absorb the fierce rebel offensive," said head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel-Rahman.
The Observatory said 50 rebels and allied extremist militants had been killed since the assault began, as well as dozens of government troops.
The al-Watan daily, which is close to the government, reported on Wednesday that government forces "advanced again south and southwest of Aleppo because of the major setbacks" among rebel factions.
Overnight, at least 10 civilians including four children were killed in rebel shelling of government-controlled districts on Aleppo's southwestern edges, the Observatory said.
|[Click to enlarge]|
Rebels detonated at least one large tunnel bomb underneath a government position on the southern outskirts of Aleppo on Tuesday evening, in a renewed attempt to break the government's siege on the city's east.
Rebel group fighters, including al-Qaeda's former affiliate Ahrar al-Sham, launched a counteroffensive in Aleppo on Sunday, clashing with regime forces on a number of fronts.
The rebels seek to capture Ramussa, a district in Aleppo's southwest suburbs, in a bid to cut off government forces and open a new route into the city for rebels.
More than 40 civilians have been killed in opposition bombardment of those neighbourhoods since Sunday.
|Rebel factions are to negotiate a release of prisoners held by regime forces in exchange for handing over the bodies of two Russian pilots|
Russian bodies for prisoners
Meanwhile, the rebel factions are to negotiate a release of prisoners held by regime forces in exchange for handing over the bodies of two Russian pilots killed after their helicopter was hit in the Idlib province on Monday, a spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham told The New Arab.
"Opposition factions will ask the regime to release a number of women and children detained in return for the bodies of the two Russian pilots," Abou Yossef al-Muhajir said.
"The release of all prisoners held by the regime is a priority for opposition factions," Muhajir added.
Agencies contributed to this report.