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The New Arab

Syrian army presses Aleppo attack

Rebel groups in Aleppo have been weakened followings months of heavy airstrikes [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 February, 2016

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A Syrian offensive threatened rebel supply lines into the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday forcing hundreds of families to flee bombardments.

Syria's official SANA news agency reported the capture of Hardatneen, north of Aleppo on Tuesday as UN envoy Staffan de Mistura kicked off what he called a second day of peace talks in Geneva by hosting a government delegation for the second time since Friday. 
  
The capture was confirmed by opposition media activist Mansour Hussein, who told the New Arab that among the victims of the air raids were a number of volunteers for the Red Crescent.

The regime's success followed 27 hours of fierce fighting with opposition forces who were targeted by rocket-propelled grenades.

The capture of early Tuesday came hours before UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura hosted a government delegation in Geneva, and was expecting an opposition group for a separate meeting later in the day, according to the UN.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition group that monitors the conflict, said that pro-government troops have also captured three villages near Aleppo since Monday, and have cut roads which supplied the opposition in Aleppo.

The regime was reportedly able to take advantage of foggy weather conditions that impeded sight for the rebels, and were backed by the Russian and Syrian air raids which targeted front line opposition fighters with dozens of barrel bombs.

The Observatory also reported that heavy aerial bombardment, presumed to be from the Russian Air Force, supported the ground troops.

Hundreds of families have been reported fleeing their homes to escape the bombardment.

The developments have led  to some predicting a new ‘siege of Aleppo’, as the North of the city appears in danger of being cut-off by the regime, who could now open supply routes to the government-controlled areas of al-Zahraa and Nobbul.

Rebels are reportedly mobilising in the city, with a large convoy of al-Nusra affiliated rebels spotted heading to the South of the city over the weekend.

Aleppo, once Syria's biggest city and commercial centre, is divided between areas controlled separately by the government and opposition. 

Rebels said the Russian air force was mounting heavy air strikes in the area.  

"We sent new fighters this morning, we sent heavier equipment there. It seems it will be a decisive battle in the north God willing," said Ahmed al Seoud, head of a Free Syrian Army group known as Division 13. "We sent missile platforms. We sent everything there," he said.

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