Rebel supply lines to Aleppo cut by government advances
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad took control of the strategically important district of Ramussa, located on the southern outskirts of Aleppo on Thursday, activists told AFP.
Ramussa’s capture marks a considerable reversal of fortunes for the Syrian opposition following a month long rebel offensive in Aleppo and effectively seals off Aleppo’s opposition-held districts which have faced a renewed siege from pro-government forces since Sunday.
Strikes by unidentified aircraft, on Wednesday, lead to 11 deaths in the eastern, rebel controlled district of Sukkari, reported the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Before Syria’s civil war, Aleppo was the country’s commercial and industrial centre. But now it is a deeply divided city with rebel groups controlling eastern districts of the city, and government forces holding sway in the west of the city.
Speaking to AFP on Thursday, SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahman reported that pro-government forces had re-asserted "full control of the Ramussa district after ferocious clashes with rebels, Islamist fighters, and extremist groups."
Abdel Rahman, added that the capture had been facilitated by the arrival of pro-government Iraqi and Iranian militiamen south of Aleppo city earlier this week.
In a bid to break the government's encirclement of the eastern neighborhoods, rebels and their extremist allies had launched a major assault in Aleppo's southern outskirts on July 31 successfully opening up a route into rebel held districts of Syria’s second city.
But government forces have since been able to recapture almost all that territory with some rebel fighters maintaining marginal positions in a residential complex and school, said Abdel Rahman.
Under renewed siege, an AFP correspondent in Aleppo said that resources in the city were dwindling and prices skyrocketing.
Aleppo province, which borders Turkey to the north, is currently divided between various armed groups including rebels, the government, Kurdish forces and extremist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State.
Elsewhere in the province ARA News, a Kurdish news website, reported on Thursday that IS militants had evacuated their headquarters in the city of al-Bab located north-east of Aleppo city approximately 30km from the Turkish border.
“Dozens of ISIS military vehicles have left al-Bab carrying weapons and militants. They headed to the nearby town of Khafsa east of al-Bab city,” a local media activist told ARA News.
The extremist group is said to have deserted headquarters in the city including the Sharia court, al-Hisba police department, jihadist training camps and weapons’ storage centres.
IS’ retreat from al-Bab comes at a time when the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been advancing on the city from the north, and after the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield coalition of rebel forces expressed their readiness to combat IS in al-Bab and other areas of northern Syria.