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Syrian rebels launch new offensive to save besieged Aleppo

Rebels are launching a counter-offensive in Aleppo [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 1 August, 2016

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Dozens of armed Syrian opposition groups in northern Syria have launched a counter-offensive against regime forces in Aleppo who have besieged the rebel-held east of the city.
Syrian opposition factions in northern Syria announced the launch of a major military operation aimed at lifting the regime's siege on Aleppo.

Pro-Damascus forces have imposed a blockade on eastern parts of the city after taking control of Castello Road, which connects the district to other rebel territories in Aleppo.

Abu Yusuf Muhajir, military spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham said that the opposition groups were preparing an offensive to ease the 20-day siege and open a new supply line to opposition-controlled Aleppo.

Clashes begun on Sunday afternoon between Jaish al-Fatah forces and Syrian fighters in the Aleppo countryside.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which gathers information from a network of local informants, said rebels and pro-government forces were clashing along several fronts on the outskirts of the divided city.

Aleppo was Syria's largest city and its commercial capital before the war.

Presumed Russian or government jets bombed neighborhoods in the eastern side, the Observatory reported.

Earlier in the day, helicopters dropped unguided barrel bombs on the opposition-controlled neighborhood of Bustan al-Basha, it said.

The newly-named Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Fatah al-Sham who used two car bombs at Syrian defences to take control of al-Hikma school, south of Aleppo.

During the battles they also managed to capture three regime tanks.

The Syrian army and allied militias cut off the opposition's Castello Road supply route on 7 July.

Since then they have tightened the encirclement of the rebel-held east, seizing sections of the road, sparking food shortages and spiralling prices in opposition neighbourhoods.

The UN's special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura warned Friday that basic supplies in eastern Aleppo could run out in three weeks.

The Syrian and Russian militaries announced safe corridors for residents who wanted to leave the besieged area Thursday, but according to the Russian government, only 169 civilians had left by Saturday.

Several rights groups have warned that it is illegal to deprive civilians of basic necessities, and that residents should not have to choose between leaving their homes or starving.



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