Syrian troops launch major ground assault for Aleppo

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Syrian forces launched a major ground offensive
on a rebel-held district of Aleppo,
the biggest
assault yet in a new campaign aimed at wiping out
rebel forces and retaking a city that’s key to
ending the five-year war.
Syrian state TV said on Tuesday that troops
captured Farafra district, near Aleppo’s famous
citadel, and fighting was under way near the
historic core of the northern city.
A military official told AFP news agency that
government forces “retook control of all of the
Farafra district” and were now “demining the area”.

The official said the advance “comes as a
continuation of the military operation that was
announced that includes an aerial component and
an artillery and ground component”.
Aleppo has endured the worst aerial onslaught
since the start of the war in 2011 with more than
400 people killed, hundreds of others wounded,
and buildings flattened since a short-lived
ceasefire broke down last week.
Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters said
that pro-government forces, including Shia militias,
carried out “a ground push” in the Bab al-Antakya
district.
“They [rebels] said that they repelled that attack
and killed a number of pro-government militia”
during fighting that lasted a couple of hours, said
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from
across the Turkish border in Gaziantep.

Stratford said a website run by the FSA reported
two attacks in which 11 pro-government
militiamen and Syrian soldiers were killed by rebel
fighters, “keeping them from moving forward”.
It was not possible to independently confirm any of
the claims.
In the district of Handarat, north of Aleppo,
government forces also advanced against the
rebels, he said.
Government fighter jets backed by Russia’s air
force also continued to target the city and its
outskirts. Video obtained by Al Jazeera showed the
latest air strikes on Tuesday with rescue crews
rushing to the scene to pull people from under the
rubble.
Residents said bunker-busting bombs were
dropped in the al-Shaar neighbourhood killing 24
civilians, including 15 people from the same
family.

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