Syrian army launches major ground offensive against rebels in Aleppo

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Soldiers loyal to the Syrian regime gesture while on their military tanks in Qusair, after the Syrian army took control of the city from rebel fighters. File photo

ARA News 

ALEPPO  The Syrian Army launched a major ground offensive on Tuesday, targeting rebel-held districts in Aleppo.

Tuesday’s operation began with an assault on Farafra District.

“Army forces regained control of the Farafra District after hitting main positions of the terrorists [rebel fighters],” a Syrian Army officer told ARA News in Aleppo.

“After liberating the area, our special teams started to dismantle explosives in the district,” the officer said.

The Farafra District, located near Aleppo’s historic citadel, was a bastion for rebel fighters in the city.

“Heavy clashes took place between the regime’s forces and the rebels before the latter were obliged to withdraw from major parts of the district,” media activist Ahmed al-Halabi told ARA News in Aleppo.

Al-Halabi added that sporadic clashes continued until midnight in the vicinity of Farafra. The Syrian Army has brought up fresh reinforcements in a bid to seize the city centre.

Pro-regime forces, including Hezbollah, also attacked rebel-held redoubts near the Bab Antakya District. Dozens of rebel fighters were killed and wounded in the ensuing clashes.

Speaking to ARA News, rebel spokesman Saleh al-Zein said that the Assad regime took advantage of the current internationally-sponsored truce to launch Tuesday’s offensive. 

“This offensive was another proof that the regime could never commit to any truce deal. Pro-Assad forces took advantage of the ongoing ceasefire to hit the rebels,” al-Zein said. 

According to activists, in the past week at least 200 civilians have been killed in Aleppo by Syrian and Russian airstrikes. UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, called the recent aerial campaign one of the worst in the 5 1/2-year war.

Reporting by: Helin Saeed

Source: ARA News

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