28 Nov 2016

Syrian govt advance into rebel-held eastern Aleppo

11:12 am on 28 November 2016

Syrian government forces have been making rapid advances into eastern Aleppo, forcing thousands of civilians to flee.

Syrian pro-government forces inspect an area in the Masaken Hanano district in eastern Aleppo, a day after they resized it from rebel fighters.

Syrian pro-government forces inspect an area in the Masaken Hanano district in eastern Aleppo, a day after they resized it from rebel fighters. Photo: AFP

The Syrian army captured Jabal Badro on Sunday, a day after seizing Hanano district, and was making in-roads in other neighbourhoods.

Its aim was to divide the rebel-held east of the city in two.

Some reports said several thousand civilians were trying to escape, to government and other rebel-held areas.

Some 275,000 people were believed to remain in eastern Aleppo, where food and medical supplies have all but run out.

It is hard to get a clear picture of how events are unfolding in eastern Aleppo, but it is being reported that:

  • Government forces have pushed into Sakhour neighbourhood, coming within just 500m of creating a corridor through the rebel-held territory
  • Reuters news agency says government troops have taken the district of Holok, while the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights says they have also taken Baadeen
  • Meanwhile, Kurdish-led forces have reportedly taken the Bustan al-Basha neighbourhood, allowing some 2,500 civilians to flee north

The Syrian army said it had helped 1500 people to flee to government-controlled western parts, while Russian news agencies said some 900 civilians - including 119 children - had left Jabal Badro alone before the troops moved in.

One man left Hanano on Saturday, telling Reuters news agency it was "because of the bombardment from the Syrian army during the advance, and the chlorine gas".

He was waiting with his wife, mother and three children at a minibus stop, hoping to travel on to the west of the city.

The Syrian army's offensive to retake eastern Aleppo was now into its 13th day.

Around 219 civilians, including 27 children, had been killed in the assault so far, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Retaking all of Aleppo would be a major victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after five years of conflict.

Once Syria's commercial and industrial hub, Aleppo had been divided roughly in two since 2012, with the government controlling the west and rebels the east.

In the past year, Syrian troops had broken the deadlock with the help of Iranian-backed militias and Russian air strikes.

Russia said its air force was active in other parts of the country, but not operating over Aleppo.

- BBC

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