Beirut – The Syrian regime and its allies expanded their frame of attack in eastern Aleppo, using the cover of Russian warplanes. Reports said regime forces pushed deeper on Tuesday by controlling several positions of armed opposition factions in the eastern neighborhoods of the city, such as Hanano and Sheikh Najjar. The development forced several civilians to flee the area.
Opposition factions continuously refuse to withdraw from the city, instead – they stated that they’re preparing for a “long confrontation.”
Currently, the Syrian regime backed by Russians, Iranians and the Lebanese “Hezbollah” are fighting opposition factions in several fronts in Aleppo, particularly in Masaken Hanano located northeast the city.
Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdelrahman told Agence France Press on Tuesday that Assad forces pounded the area with air strikes and barrel bombs as ground troops advanced in the key eastern district of Masaken Hanano.
“Eight opposition fighters, including a commander, were killed during fighting in the Sheikh Saeed district,” Abdelrahman said.
The regime controls around a third of the Hanano district, the Observatory said.
Opposition factions responded on Tuesday to the attack by shelling the regime-controlled western neighborhoods of the city. Zakaria Malahafiji, political representative for the Fastaqem Kama Umirt brigades spoke about the size of advancement made lately by regime forces.
“The regime and its sectarian militias attacked on Tuesday the districts of Hanano, Sheikh Najjar and Ouwayjah. However, they made a very limited progress in Hanano and have only controlled one military position in Sheikh Najjar. They made no progress in Ouwayjah,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Malahafji said the regime’s progress was not strategic because the mentioned districts are located at the outskirts of eastern Aleppo, far from the well-protected Aleppo downtown.
Member of the Syrian National Coalition Samir al-Nashar told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday: “There is a decision taken by the Syrian regime, Russia and Iran to invade Aleppo, and also a decision taken by rebels to fight until the end,” describing the battle as decisive for all forces.
Al-Nashar said: “Rebels cannot give up on Aleppo or hand up their city. Therefore, their armed fighters will not leave, not because they sympathize with Fatah al-Sham, but because they know that losing the battle would be the prelude to dismantling the forces currently protecting the city.”
Malahafji also spoke about several proposal previously presented to the opposition, all based on the withdrawal of the factions from Aleppo. “Those proposals are completely rejected. We do not mind if foreign fighters leave the city, if such a step could calm the situation. But, any request asking us to withdraw or hand the city is completely rejected,” he said.
Military aircraft dropped leaflets over east Aleppo on Tuesday, urging rebels to distribute food to civilians, leave the area and allow residents to do so as well, AFP reported.