Syrian opposition advances into key Aleppo district

Opposition forces in Syria fight back in Aleppo to recapture the encircled district of Al Mallah after the vital supply route was cut off by regime forces.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Syrians walk past an empty vegetable market in the rebel-held area of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 10, 2016 after the regime closed the Castello Road severing the supply route to the opposition-held eastern half of the city.

Syrian rebel forces advanced into a key regime-held district in Aleppo on Monday to reopen the last remaining supply route into opposition-held districts.

The offensive to gain control of the strategic Castello Road in the Al Mallah district came at dawn, just days after the area was encircled by regime forces. 

Control over the Castello Road is the only way that some 250,000 besieged residents of east Aleppo can have access to essentials like food and fuel.

The regime’s capture of the district days ago had come during an extension of a nationwide truce declared last week by the regime to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr.

The regime, which has been gaining ground on the rebels after Russia launched air strikes in support of regime leader Bashar al Assad's forces last year, have continued to step up their military campaigns on major battle fronts this month despite periodically announcing temporary truces.

A Syrian man sells parsley at an empty vegetable market in the opposition-held area of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 10, 2016 after the regime closed the Castello Road severing the supply route to the opposition-held eastern half of the city.

Residents contacted in the city say prices of the little remaining vegetables, bread and fuel had almost doubled in the past week, with no new supplies coming into Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial hub before the war.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air raids by regime forces on the opposition-held part of Aleppo killed 13 civilians on Monday. It also said that 19 regime fighters were killed in the fighting.

Aleppo has bore the brunt of the war which began in 2011 after regime forces led a crackdown on anti-regime protesters. The war has since killed more than 300,000 people, with some estimates suggesting 470,000 may have died. 

A series of peace talks were brokered by the UN in February to bring peace to Aleppo and other parts of the country, but long-lasting ceasefires have not held.

UN calls US and Russia to bring peace to Syria

The siege by regime forces on eastern Aleppo has alarmed humanitarian workers.

United Nations Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said the UN is extremely concered about the unfolding situation in Syria.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura however says he is still optimistic to end the six-year-old war with the help of international support.

“My message is for Russian and for the US. Now, more than ever. Because it is them who have produced and given their contributrion to making sure at least for two months that the ceasefire was agreed upon,” he said, referring to the cessation of hostilities deal.

On the other hand, the main Syrian opposition body, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), told the UN envoy that it was premature to set a date for fresh talks in which outlines of a political deal will be presented, something Mistura is seeking ahead of an August deadline.

"There is a need to adopt a new strategy to push the peace process by adopting a tougher policy against the regime's violations against the Syrian people ... before calling for a new round of negotiations," the HNC statement said.

TRTWorld and agencies