Syrian army advances against Islamic State in Aleppo

Syrian army advances against Islamic State in Aleppo
2 min read
03 February, 2017
Since launching a broad offensive against the extremists nearly three weeks ago, the army says it has taken around 250 square kilometres of territory.
Turkey-backed rebel fighters, the Euphrates Shield alliance have edged towards Al-Bab [Getty]
Syria's military said on Thursday it had captured a string of towns and part of a key highway from the Islamic State group in the northern province of Aleppo.

Since launching a broad offensive against the extremists nearly three weeks ago, the army has taken around 250 square kilometres (100 square miles) of territory, it said in a statement carried by official news agency SANA.

The army said the advances form "a launching pad for developing military operations against Daesh," using an Arabic acronym for IS.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have steadily advanced in Syria's north since announcing they had retaken full control over Aleppo city in late December.

It was the biggest blow to Syria's rebel movement since the uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011.

Syria's army on Thursday also said it had seized a 16 kilometre-stretch (10 miles) of highway linking Aleppo city to the IS-held town of Al-Bab.

Al-Bab, 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the Turkish border, is the last remaining IS bastion in Aleppo province and is seen as a prize by nearly all sides of Syria's complex war.

Since December, Turkey-backed rebel fighters known as the Euphrates Shield alliance have edged towards Al-Bab from the north.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, fierce fighting Thursday on the edges of Al-Bab left 11 IS fighters and seven Euphrates Shield fighters dead.

More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria and millions have been displaced since the uprising broke out nearly six years ago.