Syrian army troops, backed by a Russian air cover, regained a key town in Aleppo province on Thursday. File photo
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ALEPPO – Backed by allied militias and Russian air cover, Syrian regime forces seized Thursday a key rebel town south of Aleppo, winning the second major advance in the province this week, pro-regime media sources reported.
State television announced the Syrian army recaptured al-Hader town, one of the rebels’ strongholds adjacent to the key highway connecting Aleppo with Damascus.
This comes one day after the pro-regime troops lifted a one-year siege imposed by the militants of Islamic State (ISIS) on the Kweyris air base east of Aleppo.
Speaking to ARA News in Aleppo, media activist Khalid Halabi said that pro-Assad forces and allied militias, including Lebanese Hezbollah militia and Iranian groups, have regained the al-Hader town (25 km south of Aleppo city) from rebel fighters.
Russia’s air raids, which began on September 30, helped the regime’s army make new gains, prompting the army to begin offensives in several provinces.
“The pro-regime forces has taken control of large parts of al-Hader,” Halabi said, pointing out “both Syrian and Russian fighter jets conducted airstrikes on the area.”
“Seizing the town would help pro-Assad troops to regain control over the key Aleppo-Damascus highway,” the source added, pointing out “al-Hader was mostly under the control of al-Nusra Front (Syria’s branch of al-Qaeda) and other allied groups.”
Both Syrian regime and opposition factions have been sharing control over the city of Aleppo since June, 2012. The regime forces hold the western part of the city, while rebel factions are in control of the eastern part.
“Scores of fighters from both conflicting parties have been killed in the battle for the Kweyris air base, where some 1,000 regime soldiers had been trapped for months,” Halabi told ARA News.
“55 ISIS jihadists, 18 regime soldiers and 19 militants of Hezbollah were killed in the recent clashes in the vicinity of Kweyris airport,” he added.
This weekend, about 20 countries are to meet in Vienna to reach an agreement for Syria peace talks in a bid to end the more than four-year-long conflict in the war-ravaged country.
The Syrian regime and opposition factions are not expected to attend Vienna meeting, according to observers.
Reporting by: Helin Saeed
Source: ARA News