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Syrian army and allied fighters 'advance' south of Aleppo

The campaign around Aleppo is one of several assaults against rebel fighters [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 October, 2015

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Syrian troops backed by Iranian fighters advanced on Saturday in an offensive to retake the northern city of Aleppo from rebels, a monitoring group said.

Syrian troops backed by Hizballah and Iranian fighters made advances on Saturday in their offensive to retake territory around the northern city of Aleppo from rebel and jihadist fighters, a monitoring group said. 

The campaign around Aleppo, which the army launched on Friday, is one of several assaults it has waged against rebel fighters since Russian jets began carrying out air strikes on Sept. 30 in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

It has concentrated so far on rebel areas south of Aleppo rather than the city itself, which is home to 2 million people and divided between government forces and rebels.

     The army and its allies have also been fighting to retake parts of the northern provinces of Hama, Idlib and Latakia.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army and its allies retook three villages amid fierce fighting in which at least 17 Islamist fighters and eight soldiers or allied forces were killed.

Troops are also trying to advance to the east of Aleppo towards Kweires military airport, aiming to break a siege on the base by Islamic State and other insurgents, the UK-based Observatory said.

Hizballah's Al-Manar television said the army had captured the village of Huwaija, on the way to Kweires. The Observatory said it the army was advancing in Huwaija, one of several villages where heavy fighting was continuing.

The army and its allies have also been fighting to retake parts of the northern provinces of Hama, Idlib and Latakia seized by rebels in recent months, as well as insurgent areas north of Homs city, around the capital Damascus, and in the southern province of Deraa near the Jordanian border.

The Observatory reported fighting around the town of Talbiseh, part of a rebel-held enclave north of Homs city which has faced heavy bombardment by Russian jets for the last two weeks, and a ground offensive by the army and allied militias.

Al-Qaeda commander killed in Syria

The US military is confirming that an airstrike in Syria by the US-led coalition has killed a top al-Qaeda commander.

The Pentagon says a Saudi national known as Sanafi al-Nasr was "a longtime jihadist experienced in funneling money and fighters" for the terrorist network.

A statement from the US Defence Department says coalition forces conducted the airstrike on Thursday over north west Syria.

The US  says he was a leading figure in the Khorasan group, a secretive cell of al-Qaeda operatives who US officials say were sent from Pakistan to Syria to plot attacks against the West. 

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter says the military operation "deals a significant operation" to the Khorasan group's plans to attack the US and its allies. 

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