Syrians in Aleppo fear starvation as clashes continue
Renewed offensives by regime forces in Syria saw dozens killed on Monday, as pro-President Bashar al-Assad militias launched a "massive" incursion into the Damascus suburb of Daraya.
In the north, rebel fighters began a major assault against regime-held districts in Syria's second city of Aleppo, where there are fears a new siege by pro-Damascus forces could result in starvation and malnutrition for some residents of the city.
Attempting to break the siege, a rebel assault began at dawn on Monday and after the severing of the Castello Road - the last rebel supply route into Aleppo - by government forces.
In the attack, 19 regime fighters were killed by the explosion of a tunnel in Aleppo's old city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The rebels, however, were hampered by regime and Russian air raids which killed 13 civilians, most in the Bab al-Maqam neighbourhood.
Nine civilians were also killed in western Aleppo after rebels fired a barrage of shells into regime-held areas, the Observatory added.
According to AFP, a resident of western Aleppo's Syriac quarter said that the rebel shelling had completely destroyed his home.
Anas al-Abdeh, tje head of Syria's main opposition umbrella, said that hundreds risk starving due to the regime siege.
"We are quite worried that if the Castello route is totally cut off, more than 300,000 civilians will starve and be under huge pressure," he said during a press conference in Istanbul.
"Most of the humanitarian supplies are coming through this route. The regime is trying its best to besiege the city."On the same day, Damascus launched its largest deployment of armoured vehicles into Daraya since it first began besieging the rebel-held suburb in 2012.
"The incursion, which is backed by [pro-regime] militias, is massive," Tamam Abu al-Khair, a member of the Martyrs of Islam Brigade, told Anadolu Agency.
"Opposition defences collapsed before the advance," he said.
"Regime forces have now entered residential areas [of Daraya] after establishing control over the western region, which was the area’s last line of defense," he continued.
Monday's huge deployment in Daraya is raising concerns among local opposition groups about the safety of the 8,000 or so people still living in the area.
Across Syria, government forces have besieged and embargoed rebel-held areas, which has deprived hundreds of thousands of Syrians of basic food supplies, water and medication.
According to the United Nations, an estimated 592,000 people live under siege in Syria - the bulk of whom are surrounded by pro-regime forces - with another 4 million currently living in hard-to-reach areas.