Aleppo battle in ‘final phase’
ALEPPO: The crucial battle for Aleppo entered its “final phase” yesterday after Syrian rebels retreated into a small pocket of their former bastion in the face of new army advances. President Bashar al-Assad’s forces held more than 90 percent of the onetime opposition stronghold of east Aleppo, a monitor and military official said, and appeared on the verge of retaking the entire city. A Syrian military official in Aleppo told AFP the “operation in eastern neighborhoods is entering its final phase”, as fierce clashes were reported in the few districts still under rebel control.
The fall of Aleppo would be the worst rebel defeat since Syria’s conflict began in 2011, and leave the government in control of the country’s five major cities. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported that the army had captured southeast Aleppo’s large Sheikh Saeed district. Syrian official media confirmed Sheikh Saeed had been retaken, with state television showing what it said was live footage from the neighborhood.
ALEPPO: Fighters of the Free Syrian Army fire an anti-aircraft weapon in the rebelheld Mashhad area yesterday as they battle Syrian government forces during an operation to retake the embattled city.