Scores of Syrian rebels killed over key Aleppo road
The fighters from the Faylaq al-Sham Islamist faction and al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front were killed trying to reopen the Castello Road, which regime forces effectively severed on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
The road was the only remaining supply route into the opposition-held east of Aleppo city, which has been divided between government and rebel control since mid-2012.
Government forces effectively severed the route on Thursday when they seized a hilltop within firing range of the Castello Road.
The Observatory said there were deaths among government forces in the overnight fighting, but had no immediate toll.
"The attack has ended and the road remains completely closed," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
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Residents in Aleppo described shortages of basic goods after government troops advanced within firing range of the key Castello Road supply route.
"For two days the situation was calm, I went to the market and I filled up my motorbike with gasoline. Today, I couldn't even find a single tomato," said Bilal Qaterji, a local textile factory employee.
"There's not a drop of fuel left because the Castello Road has been cut," he told AFP.
Residents in eastern Aleppo said they feared ongoing shortages if the Castello Road remained closed.
"I worry that the Castello Road will be cut for a long time, it will lead to shortages of bread and other necessities," said Ahmed Kanjou, an unemployed father of four.
Residents said prices were already rising, and many were bracing for the possibility of a lengthy siege.
Syria's government has been accused of using siege tactics to pressure rebel forces, and the UN says nearly 600,000 Syrians live in besieged areas, most surrounded by government forces although rebels also use the method.
Activists and rights groups including Doctors Without Borders [MSF] have reported deaths from starvation in some besieged areas.
The Castello Road wraps around Aleppo's eastern and northern edges and leads into rebel-controlled territory north of the battered city.
President Bashar al-Assad's forces have been trying to cut the route for more than two years and their Thursday advance brought them the closest so far to achieving that goal.
Agencies contributed to this report