Battle for eastern Aleppo intensifies

Syrian regime forces and their allies gain full control of northern Aleppo. The losses would be a potentially devastating blow to Syria's rebels, who seized the area in 2012.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

People remove belongings from a damaged site after an air strike Sunday in the besieged rebel-held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria.

Syria's rebels lost all of the northern neighbourhoods of their stronghold in east Aleppo on Monday, as the regime made significant advances in its offensive to recapture the entire city.

The regime's gains have prompted an exodus of thousands of desperate civilians, some fleeing to districts held by the regime or Kurdish militias, others heading south into areas still under opposition control.

"The situation is disastrous," said Ibrahim Abu Al-Leith, a spokesman for the White Helmets rescue group in the Ansari neighbourhood.

"There is mass displacement and morale is in the gutter," he said, his voice cracking with emotion. "People are sleeping in the streets. They don't have anything to eat or drink, but neither do we."

The advances by Assad's forces mean the regime now controls at least a third of eastern Aleppo, just under two weeks into its renewed bid to recapture the city.

Regime television said forces had captured the key Suleiman al-Halabi water pumping station, which controls supply to regime-held west Aleppo and has periodically been shut by rebels.

The city is divided between the regime-controlled west and the rebel-controlled east, where about 250,000 people live under siege. The offensive launched by Assad's forces in September, backed by Russia and Iran, is aimed at retaking Aleppo and will be a major victory for the regime. 

Thousands of civilians were killed during air bombardments and shelling by Assad's forces in Aleppo. More than five years since the civil war erupted in Syria, thousands have been killed and about 11 million are displaced.

As a result of the regime's accelerated advances and take over of key districts, thousands of civilians are also being pushed toward the frontlines of the battle 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier said that regime forces had captured Sakhour, as a result of which rebel-held parts of eastern Aleppo have now effectively been cut off from one another.

"Syrian government forces have captured some 10 neighbourhoods over the past few days, putting nearly 30 per cent of Aleppo's formerly rebel-held neighbourhoods under government control,"  SOHR's head, Rami Abdurrahman, said.
 

"The shelling and aerial bombing does not stop and we and our neighbours decided to leave with the army approaching," said Abdullah Ansari, who fled Haydariya with his family of six to areas further south within the besieged area.

The regime took control of the Hanano housing district on the northeast frontline in eastern Aleppo on Saturday. On Sunday they captured the neighbouring Jabal Badro district, forcing thousands to flee.

It later said it had taken a third district, Holok, and killed a large number of opposition fighters.

Syrian regime media said troops and allied forces are also pushing ahead in nearby districts and making significant advances.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies